British wildlife campaign groups say tourists taking pictures with seals are disturbing and causing damages to their health.
UK's seal conservation groups have launched a petition encouraging the government to prohibit chasing, feeding, touching, or disturbing a seal in England and Wales, already having over 17,000 signatures.
Volunteers Patrol Beaches to Discourage the Act
Volunteers have begun to patrol certain beaches in British so they can stop tourists from disturbing the animals or even going too close to them. Yorkshire Seal Group's Matt Barnes is particularly worried about the colonies of the county.
He said: "On our coast, there have been 67 seal disturbances this month but the true figure will be higher. Each time a seal is disturbed, it means it is not resting or tending its pups. We have some of the country's most run down seals here in Yorkshire."
He also said most of the seals have severe calorie deficits due to the constant disturbance during their resting time and they feel stressed.
Effect of Visitor's Disturbance on Seals
Matt Barnes said they are exhausted since they are awakened from their sleep all the time. The current laws are for dolphins and whales but seals are the most susceptible.
Local police forces and the RSPCA have supported the campaign and also warned that seals can respond in an aggressive manner when threatened.
Richard Fussey from Humberside Police warned that seals cannot be predictable when they may appear quite compliant. Adding that they will respond on feeling out of fear. If they think they are been threatened, the animal can bite from some distance away.
"Our message is, 'Observe, don't disturb'," Geoff Edmond, from the RSPCA, added.
The petition also mentioned dog attacks, saying that seal sightings are rising across the country, leading to more often and at times lethal interactions between people and their pets.
Sightseers vs. Seals
Sally Butler from a volunteer group called Friends of Horsey Seals on the Norfolk coast, said sightseers needed to stay not less than 10m (33ft) away from the animals.
She was disturbed that a lot of people had frightened the pregnant females and it could make them miscarry their babies. She said it is just common sense that people should stay far back as possible.
They've got signs up all over, but people don't seem to be getting the message, she said. Butler said she even sighted a seal chasing a photographer after they came close to take a photo. She said now the matured females are quite heavily pregnant and they will begin to give birth.
Butler said also said: "The males are getting quite testosterone-filled and you can see them fighting at the water's edge, so it is really stupid to get anywhere near them. And for people to put their children in that situation is just unbelievable."
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