Drone images show around 250 wild grey seals, adults and cubs, lying on the sand on the northern French coast. Seals started to disappear from the Cote d’Opale in the 1970s, under pressure from fishermen who saw them as rivals for their catch.
Since the 1980s, seals have been a protected species in France, and in recent years, they have begun to return to the coast.
“We just saw a group of seals settling on this beach near Calais. At low tide, they settle here to get fat (for their protective layer), to rest and to prepare for their upcoming hunt at sea,” seal enthusiast Jerome Gressier told Reuters as he observed the pod.
Gressier uses a long-focus lens to identify injured seals. “It allows us to see if there are any animals who are caught in nets. Often, they are caught in the neck and it hurts them quite a lot,” he said. The injured seals are treated at the nearby animal rescue center LPA Calais.
According to a 2018 report of the Hauts-de-France region’s Eco-Phoques project, at least 1,100 seals now live in the area.
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