By Becca Husselbee
An adorable and very rare black seal pup was spotted on a beach catching some rays as he delighted visitors.
The newborn seal with his glossy jet-black coat and big eyes attracted crowds at the Donna Nook National Nature Reserve, on a stretch of beach along the North-Lincolnshire coast, last Thursday.
Around 1,700 pups are born at the reserve during the breeding season, every year, but seals with a black coat are so rare that even officials are baffled as to why this occurs when the parents are both grey in colour.
Mark Bentley, 47, from Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, is a regular visitor to the site with his partner, Jude, often saying for three to four days at a time in a local cottage to capture the annual arrival fo the seals.
The amateur photographer said: “We had heard about the rare seal before we got there as we follow the reserve’s Facebook page and had seen that it had been spotted.
“We headed there last Thursday in the hope we good get some good pictures of the newborn.
“We weren’t there too long when we saw him sunbathing on the beach, completely relaxed.
“We thought he was very cute and his big eyes really stood out against his beautiful coat, which really came across in the images.
The mothers will come onto the sand dunes to give birth and after around 18 days will stop feeding the pup and head back out to sea to hunt food to encourage the pup to fend for itself.
The mother will often not eat for around four weeks while she has her pup losing around 40% of her body weight and living off fat reserves.
The seals will leave the coastline around the first week of January until next year where the process will begin again.
Mark, who works full-time in a quarry, said: “I have never seen a black seal before, but it is amazing to see one up close.
“I would visit the beach a lot when I was younger but have been more regularly the last two years, and now they are so many people turning up to see the seal population.
“We will be coming back closer to Christmas and hope he might still be around.”
Mark has been an amateur photographer for the last seven year after seeing photographer close to his home at the Brize Norton RAF base.
After seeing keen photographer capture the aircrafts at the base he decided to give it a go for himself.