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8 December 2013, 08:52
Hundreds of seals which had been missing and were feared dead after Thursday's tidal surge hit the east coast of Britain have been found alive and well.
There had been fears that the Norfolk seal pups, which were not yet mature enough to survive alone, wouldn't be able to survive the high tides.
At one breeding ground in Horsey, where grey seals come ashore to breed between November and January, volunteers counted 440 pups on the beach before the surge and only 177 after it hit.
National Trust rangers spent the weekend searching for pups at one of the large colonies at Blakeney Point, normally home to about 1,000 seals and pups.
A spokesman said: "It is with great relief that the ranger team discovered the vast majority of the colony survived the extreme tidal surge.
"There had been fears that many of the young pups, which can't swim or survive without their mother's milk until they have shed their distinctive white fur, would have been displaced from the colony or have lost their lives.
"However, it would appear that the majority of seals and pups were able to reach higher ground on the sand dunes and escape the worst of the surge.'"
Victoria Egan, the trust's countryside manager for the Norfolk coast, thanked the public for their concern.
She said: "So many people have been badly affected by the tidal surge and have lost homes and possessions.
"Amidst this, we have been touched by the concern that has been shown for the seal colony.
"We hope people will join us in being delighted that the majority of these resilient creatures survived and we hope to be able to carry out a full count in the coming days.
"Of course, many of the seals will have been displaced from the colony and we know a number of people have spotted them.''
She urged members of the public to stay away from seals and pups, saying that mothers won't search for their pups if people are around.
Anyone finding a seal is urged to only make contact with the RSPCA if it is injured or visibly in distress, using 0300 1234999.