Wildlife bosses are scratching their heads after an ultra-rare jet black seal was born at their nature reserve – to grey-coloured parents.
The rare melanistic seal pup stuck out like a sore thumb amongst 1,200 light-coloured newborns during breeding season.
But experts at Donna Nook Nature Reserve in East Yorkshire have no idea why this pup has been born with black fur – as both its parents are typically light in colour.
Marine biologist Emily Cunningham, 27, said: “I just couldn’t believe it when I saw the pup – I was just like ‘wow’.
“It is a melanistic seal pup which gives it that beautiful black coat – about 1 in 400 grey seals have this colour form.
“I go to Donna Nook every year and have never seen a black Grey Seal pup before so it was a very special visit.”
The seal is healthy, but the reserve has yet to establish the gender or age of the pup.
Sightings of black seals are rare worldwide, but experts say sometimes the oddly-coloured pups often struggling to survive.
Rachel Shaw at Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust said: “I can confirm that the seal has been spotted by the wardens and visitors to the park.
“We are not sure why this seal is black, and is different to others – the parents of the pups were both grey seals and not of a different colour.”
Speaking about the colouring of the seal, she added: “It’s a genetic thing – just like we as humans have different hair and eye colour.
“We have seen them here before – but it is very rare.
“Contrary to beliefs – the colouring of the seal does not leave the seal at a disadvantage amongst the others.”