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Conservationists celebrate rare birth in Hauts-de-France

Gray seal pup spotted first spotted at the end of December, but news of the birth was kept under wraps

Conservationists in Hauts-de-France are celebrating after a baby gray seal was born in the baie de Somme at the end of 2020.

Experts had kept the relatively rare event under wraps in the weeks immediately following the birth, with teams of volunteers keeping an eye on mother and baby to ensure they were undisturbed.

"The risk is that he will be too disturbed and the mother will not be able to breastfeed him or that he will be separated from the mother. If he is not fed or has not his breastfeeding several times a day, he cannot survive ", said Christine Martin, a volunteer at Picardie Nature.

In recent years, 11 baby gray seals have been born and grown up in the bay. But, last year, one pup died at just five days old after it was bitten by a dog, she added.

Access to the area where the animals have been spotted was restricted.

Gray seals are less common in the bay than harbour seals. Just 100 to 150 individuals have been identified, depending on the time of year.

Read more: France boasts two new regional parks and new nature reserve

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