For many years, keen and experienced wildlife photographers visited the small outer seal colony at weekends when the RAF was not making use of the beach as a bombing range. The seals in this colony are about a mile out across the mudflats and conditions on this exposed east coast beach can be extreme.

The Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust no longer condones or encourages access to these seals.

Increased pup mortality rate in this part of the colony, 6 times greater than the main colony, was recorded in 2009. This is thought to be the result of disturbance caused by the increased numbers of photographers and casual visitors.

Whilst some of this disturbance is the result of atrocious behaviour by a few individuals, the sheer weight of numbers of people now going to the outer colony at weekends is also a factor. As a wildlife conservation body, the Wildlife Trust has to try and reduce activities that are causing seal pup deaths.

Uncontrolled access to the outer colony is also spoiling the enjoyment of the thousands of visitors who stay behind the fence. The Wildlife Trust knows that they donít like to see people walking about on the beach and potentially causing disturbance and stress to the seals.

The viewing area at the foot of the sand dunes was established to reduce disturbance to the seals and ensure the safety of visitors. It is possible to get good quality photographs from the viewing area. From this location the full spectacle can be witnessed from cute seal pups and interactions between mother and young to the powerful and brutal fights between the males.

As with photographing any wildlife subject, the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust would hope that people follow the Code of Practice produced by the Nature Group of the Royal Photographic Society and in particular remember that:

∑ The welfare of the subject is more important than the photograph.

∑ Photography should not be undertaken if it puts the subject at risk from disturbance, physical damage, and lessened reproductive success, or if it causes the subject anxiety.