Visitors who disregard requests to stay away from a picturesque location are endangering the lives of seal pups.
The Blue Lagoon in Pembrokeshire closed last weekend to protect the grey seals that come to the coastline for breeding.
However, an expert expressed concerns that the animals could suffer serious harm due to people not heeding the warnings. Some individuals were seen climbing over barriers to capture selfies, while others were swimming in the water.
Managed by National Trust Cymru, the Blue Lagoon in Abereiddy is a flooded former slate quarry that, together with its surrounding beaches, serves as an ideal habitat for seals to rest, nourish themselves, and nurture their offspring.
This region is a favourite destination for hikers, kayakers, and enthusiasts of coasteering. It traditionally shuts down each year in late September to provide tranquility and safeguarding for its continuously expanding grey seal colonies.
Roughly half of the global grey seal population chooses the Welsh coastline for breeding, and in West Wales, predominantly Pembrokeshire, an estimated 5,000 of these seals reside, with approximately 1,400 pups born annually.
The closure was initiated on September 16th, a week earlier than the usual schedule, but challenges have arisen.
Terry Leadbetter, who founded charity Welsh Marine Life Rescue in 1997, said: “The entrance to the lagoon has been fenced off to the general public, but that doesn’t seem to make a difference to some people,”
“They’re scaling it and going in, just so they can mooch about and take selfies with the seals with their pups.”
He went on to say: “The big problem is that those youngsters are only with their mothers for a few weeks, during which time she’s got to feed them sufficiently to cope with life on their own.
“So if the mum feels crowded by people she can get anxious and potentially retreat into the sea for safety, thereby forcing the little ones to miss their feeding time.”
He noted that this situation could result in pups becoming excessively underweight, to the extent that some are discovered weighing less than when they were born. Mr. Leadbetter also emphasised that while he understood the fascination most people have with seals, it was imperative for them to exhibit responsible behaviour when around these animals.
“On the very same weekend people were asked to stay away from the Blue Lagoon, we got a complaint about gangs of youths swimming in there.
“Why people just don’t listen is beyond me,”