The Somme Bay, a refuge of seals in north of France

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Watchingthe Sealsin the Somme Bay

The Somme Bay, a refuge for seals

  • 400harbour seals
  • 100grey seals
  • 100kilos average weight

The largest colony

in the north of France 

The largest French seal colony is to be found in the Somme Bay.

The seals can be spotted resting on sandbanks which emerge as the tide recedes. This is where they recharge their batteries, give birth, feed their young and moult.

Please be very careful: if you come too close, they take fright and slide back in the water, even abandoning babies too young to survive separation.

The Picardie Nature association watches over and protects the colony, keeping visitors on foot, in kayaks and on horseback at a distance of at least 300 metres. They also care for abandoned baby seals at the health centre. 

 

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Grey or harbour seals?

Two protected species in the Somme Bay


Picardie Nature counted 473 harbour seals and 151 grey seals in the Somme Bay, during the peak period in 2015. Numbers vary with the seasons and mammalian activity.

The harbour seal's coat ranges from light to silver grey with black spots. Some are black, dark grey or brown with white spots. They like to live in sheltered, sandy estuaries. They give birth in the sandbanks in July, during low tide.

The grey seal has a coat that's a darker shade of grey and speckled. Males have even darker coats. They like rocky coasts, which is why there are fewer in the Somme Bay. They give birth in December/January on the rocky coasts: it can be quite an amazing sight in the Somme Bay.

Picardie Nature 
This association watches over and protects the Somme Bay seal colonies, as well as raising awareness and providing information.

Tel.: +33 (0)3 62 72 22 50

Website

You can watch them from a dugout or kayak or during a nature trip!
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The best spots

for watching them 

Firstly, the seals are protected species. Anyone disturbing the animals during low tide can be fined, so make note of these tips to ensure their protection:

  • The Pointe du Hourdel, during low tide, but you can't see the seals with the naked eye, so take binoculars or a telescope. It's best to make an appointment with Picardie Nature, in June, July and August. They are there every day during low tide.
  • Authie Bay, during low tide: you can see them from the seawall. Park at the Berck lighthouse, then follow the signs.
  • With a nature guide! Several Somme Bay associations and independent guides offer excursions to watch the seals safely. You can watch the colony without disturbing the seals, and the guides can answer all your questions!
  • In the ports at high tide (especially in Saint-Valery-sur-Somme and Le Crotoy).
  • During a canoe or kayak excursion starting in Saint-Valery-sur-Somme: it's the ideal boarding place to set out to meet seals without frightening them. 

 

Let's talk ToLaetitia Dupuis

Seal Officer, Picardie Nature

"I have always loved animals since I was little, and I've made it my job. So now I watch over and protect the Somme Bay seal colony. All year round, I tour the zone where the animals rest during low tide. I also do prevention work, warning hikers, horse-riders and boaters to keep at the safety distance."