This dead seal pup photo is hard to look at, but it was a photo I felt I had to take.

What struck me, after my initial sadness had passed, was the position of the body. Anyone who’s seen an underwater video of grey seals swimming will know how graceful and at home they are in the sea. This unfortunate pups dying pose looks like it’s happily swimming underwater; something it never got to do.

How did it die?

I’ve no way of knowing how it died. It didn’t look injured but it was clearly underweight so may have been abandoned. Mothers abandoned pups for various reasons. One reason can be human interference. If you ever see a pup by itself, do not approach it. Females feed their pups for the first 3 weeks, but do occasionally leave them for short periods. If she sees something near her pup, she may abandon it and then the pup will starve to death, and who wants that on their conscience?

In the early days of ornithology, people would shoot birds so they could take a closer look (crazy hey), but this was before the invention of binoculars and telephoto camera lenses. Now it’s easy to study and record wildlife from a safe distance without disturbing its natural behaviour.

As if seeing a dead pup wasn’t sad enough

After looking at the seal pup in more detail I noticed the pollution littering its body. I’m not saying this had anything to do with its death, but it makes the whole picture even more depressing. It couldn’t even die on a reasonably remote beach (by UK standards) without being covered in our rubbish. I know, we’ve found plastics in the deepest parts of the ocean, so a beach shouldn’t be a surprise, but still, what a way to go.

dead seal pup on a beach in norfolk