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The Castlemartin Range: A seal pup success story

Ranger Lynne Houlston reveals how the number of seal pups being born in the bays and coves on the MOD Castlemartin Range has increased over the last 15 years.

I first started counting the number of seal pups on the Castlemartin Range 15 years ago. In 2003 a colleague and I counted 23 of them with their fluffy white coats standing out against the rocks and sand below.

One of the 68 seal pups born on the Castlemartin Range in 2018.
One of the 68 seal pups born on the Castlemartin Range in 2018.​

Fast forward ten years to 2013 and this number had almost doubled with 40 pups born. Although this number had increased to a record 55 in 2017, 31 of those pups didn’t survive. 22 of these were lost during hurricane Ophelia and Storm Brian, which had equally devastating effects on seal pup numbers elsewhere on the Pembrokeshire Coast.

Fortunately there have been fewer storms during the 2018 pupping season with only two pups lost during the recent Storm Callum, and eight to other natural causes. This means that of the record 68 pups that were born this year, 58 survived.

If a pup is alone on a beach it usually means that its mother is nearby in the water.
If a pup is alone on a beach it usually means that its mother is nearby in the water.

This means the number of seal pups being born on the Castlemartin Range has trebled in just 15 years!

What’s more is that the good news isn’t limited to this corner of Pembrokeshire, with positive numbers reported elsewhere. Here’s hoping 2019 will be an ever better year for seal pupping numbers.

You can find out more about seals and how to watch them safely by downloading our bilingual wildlife leaflet from www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/wildlife.


National Park Ranger Blog
Published 17/12/2018



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