Norfolk Coast Patrol volunteers were surprised to discover 10 young black-haired seals in the country’s largest gray seal colony.
Gray seals are born with white fur, shed their hair after about 2-3 weeks, and reveal the gray below. But 1 in 400 gray seals have black velvet fur. These are seals that suffer from melanoma, which causes melanin to thrive.
The team of volunteers counted 10 young seals with melanoma during this year’s breeding season at Cape Blakeney Point and volunteer Hanne Siebers shared some photos of them. Black seals are very rare, according to the National Trust.
The seal herds in Blakeney National Nature Reserve, managed by the National Trust in Norfolk, will welcome a record number of young (4,000) this year. The number of gray seals has increased dramatically in recent years, prompting managers to change the way they count. Instead of counting each individual, they would count in an area to calculate the number of the whole herd. Due to the density of the seals, the National Trust believes crossing them is dangerous for employees and animals.
Melanosis results from a gene that causes excess melanin in the hair or skin of animals, as opposed to albinism. The disease affects many different species, including tigers, leopards, zebras, and foxes.