Harp seal found on Snettisham beach

Harp seal Summer
Harp seal Summer

Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary are looking after a rare Arctic seal spotted on its long journey home and seemingly lost.

On Saturday, the animal care team received a call from a walker at Snettisham beach, who came across a large seal resting.

Nathaniel Stephenson who attended the call-out said: “We thought this was going to be just your normal call-out, however, once we had seen the seal it was clearly not your normal common or grey seal that we find along the Norfolk coastline.”

“This seal appeared to be in good condition and seemed to be resting, though this seal was one-and-a-half times the size of our largest resident seal, Sally, who weighs approximately 100kg.

“After further examination we noticed a flipper tag which identified where the seal was last rehabilitated, we contacted Pieterburen Seal Rehabilitation and Research centre in the Netherlands who confirmed the flipper tag and our suspicions that it was in fact a harp seal called summer, which was rescued in October 2016.

“This is truly a rare sighting as the last harp seal they encountered was over 10 years ago and didn’t expect such a special guest any time soon.

“When she was found she was underweight, however she made good progress and was released on January 18.”

Harp seals live in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, more familiar with sea ice then sandy beaches.

This type of species is highly migratory, travelling vast distances where its hunting ground is covered with Arctic sea ice.

Harp seal pups are covered in a white fluffy fur to protect them against the harsh arctic conditions, once fully grown they lose this fluffy layer and can be identified by their harp-shaped skin pigmentation on their backs.

Kieran Copeland, from the Sanctuary, said: “We hope dog walkers and beach users keep a lookout for this incredibly beautiful and rare seal.”