COLUMN: Seal the deal with a nature cruise

Have you seen a seal? They really are one of our most engaging animals, with their big brown eyes and sometimes almost human mannerisms.
Frampton Marsh. Picture by Chris Andrews.Frampton Marsh. Picture by Chris Andrews.
Frampton Marsh. Picture by Chris Andrews.

Plus they have an inquisitive nature, often prepared to swim close to boats or people standing on the shoreline in order to get a better look at us.

In the UK we have two different types of seal, the common (or harbour) seal, and the grey seal. The grey seal is the larger of the two, with a long flat nose. It usually prefers rocky coasts and deeper water.

A famous place for them nearby is Donna Nook nature reserve, further north up the Lincolnshire coast. At this Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust reserve, dozens of seals haul out in November and December to give birth to their pups, allowing for some wonderful views.

The seas just off from Boston are not really their home though. Instead here we are likely to see the other type of seal, the common or harbour seal. As the name might suggest, these are more at home in shallower water, including estuaries and harbours. They are smaller, and have a muzzle more like that of a dog.

If you want to see harbour seals, a great opportunity is on the Wash nature cruises organised by the RSPB local group. These can be booked through the South Holland centre, details from Frampton Marsh reserve or search online. Up to 100 seals can be seen during the trips, resting on the mud banks in The Wash. The trips are a great way to see some of the local wildlife, and also hear about some local history. There is a full commentary, the boat is comfortable, and there are even bacon butties!

Sometimes seals will come quite a way inland, swimming up The Haven right into the centre of Boston. But do remember, they are still wild animals. They might look cute but they can give quite a bite. So admire from afar.

Dr Chris Andrews is visitor experience manager for RSPB Frampton Marsh