Our coast is rich in marine life, which is a big draw for residents and visitors from further afield. But our beaches are home to amazing marine life, particularly seals, and if we are inconsiderate our presence can be damaging.
Audrey McGhie, 61, a nurse at Scarborough Hospital, is one of many Yorkshire Seal Group volunteers working to teach visitors to love and respect the seals that live along North Yorkshire’s coastline.
“I am very interested in anything to do with conservation and wildlife,” said Audrey. “I worked in the Falklands as a travelling teacher for a long time and saw the wildlife there, including a number of different species of seal. I also saw the effect people are having on the marine environment.
“If I can get more people interested and aware of the environment and the impact we have on marine life, I am helping in some small way.”
Audrey and members of the 30-strong volunteer group visit seal sites on the North and East Yorkshire coasts to talk to the public. They provide telescopes and binoculars, so people can watch seals unobtrusively. While the seal population in the UK is relatively stable, globally there is an issue, so any threat here could lead to a worldwide decline.
“We explain what the seals are doing, what stage of their life they are at, engage with people and give them the opportunity to see the seals without having to get too close,” said Audrey.
“The more that people see the seals and like them and can understand the effects that we are having on them, the more we can protect the seals. We get families coming along and we can connect a scope to a mobile phone so they can see the seals on the screen. It makes it more immediate and the kids go away amazed. That is really rewarding.”