THOUSANDS of people from around the world have visited Hartlepool to enjoy the antics of up to 80 seals.
This year’s RSPB Date with Nature events near Saltholme have been hailed as a huge success.
More than 4,000 visitors from 20 different countries, including those from as far away as New Zealand and Uganda, joined other wildlife-lovers to watch the seals at RSPB Greatham Creek.
With Heritage Lottery funding, the wildlife reserve has been able to provide telescopes and binoculars at the seal viewpoint, together with a knowledgeable guide.
Craig McNeil, the RSPB’s information assistant, said: “From newborn and suckling pups, to play-fighting grey seals, the entertainment has been almost non-stop. Visitors were charmed by the antics of our friend Snoozy the seal and other estuary residents.
“It’s fantastic that Teesside has something that appeals to people from all over the world, and we’ve been delighted to welcome visitors from so far afield.”
It has been a record-breaking year for the Date with Nature event, with more common and grey seals than ever before seen at the creek, as well as almost double the number of visitors compared to last year.
Craig added: “The colony is going from strength to strength, which is brilliant news for both the seals and the local area. The fact that the estuary can support a large number of top predators shows how healthy the environment in and around the River Tees has become.”
Although this year’s Date with Nature events are now finished, people can still visit the area to see the seals, which can be spotted around high tide throughout the year. The seal viewpoint, built with funding from Tata Steel and Natural England is open to the public all year round.
For more information, visit www.rspb.org.uk/saltholme.