Warnings are being issued to visitors along the Kent coast to 'keep their distance', after sightings of seal pups coming ashore to rest.
It comes after the animal was spotted on Folkestone beach this week, attracting lots of attention from beach-goers.
One of the pups, photographed from stones directly opposite Mermaids Cafe, was seen relaxing on Monday and there are now reports of more landing in the area.
But some residents have raised welfare concerns on social media, urging others not to get too close to the animal to allow them to rest.
Folkestone Rescue, a charity which works alongside Dover Coastguard, the RNLI and NCI Folkestone, are reminding visitors to the coast to stay away from the sea creatures during the Easter holidays.
Russell Reilly, communications manager, said: "We have posted to the site informing members of the public that seals have been spotted close to the coastline and, while they are not usually a hazard, they are protected by law under the Wildlife and Countryside act.
"As such we would suggest not approaching them if you spot them while swimming."
'The presence of dogs will cause the seals to become distressed, especially those with young seal pups as they are most vulnerable.' - Alice Morley, Marine Conservation Officer at Kent Wildlife Trust
Alice Morley, Marine Conservation Officer at Kent Wildlife Trust, added that dog-owners should act responsibly with their pets: "Our advice is that people should not approach the pups or the mothers, and that dogs need to be kept on leads at all times.
"The presence of dogs will cause the seals to become distressed, especially those with young seal pups as they are most vulnerable.
"If they are distressed, the seals may put themselves in danger or waste their energy which will negatively impact their overall health and ability to survive."
Dog bans on certain beaches in the district are usually in place between May 1 and September 30, meaning that until the end of the month, owners are allowed to visit the sea with their pets.
She continued: "Seals on land are not generally dangerous to people, but just because they can look cute and cuddly, people need to remember that they are wild animals and may demonstrate aggression and lash out if they feel threatened.
"People should therefore stay a considerable distance from the seals. If people want to see the seals, they can use binoculars."
The charity have said they will monitor the situation: "I'm not aware that it is a regular occurrence for seal pups to come ashore at Folkstone beach but certainly if they continue to come ashore here, we will work with the relevant authorities to make people aware of this and consider installing suitable signing informing members of the public about the negative impacts that people and dogs can have on seal populations."
A spokesman for Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC) said: “We hope people will exercise common sense if they discover a seal pup along our coastline.
“It is a wild animal and as such should be respected and given space.
"Even the smallest seals can inflict a nasty bite on a human so people should not approach it and should keep pets away.
“It is perfectly natural for seals to rest on the beach and they should be left alone unless there is concern for its welfare, in which case a specialist organisation such as the British Divers Marine Life Rescue should be contacted.”
'We hope people will exercise common sense if they discover a seal pup along our coastline. It is a wild animal and as such should be respected and given space.' - Spokesman for Folkestone and Hythe District Council
If you find a live seal, the advice from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) is to watch it from a distance: "Do not approach the animal. Seals regularly haul out on our coasts - it is part of their normal behaviour and in fact they spend more time out of the water, digesting their food and resting.
"Therefore, finding a seal on the beach does not mean there is necessarily a problem and they should not be chased back into the sea as this may stop them from doing what they need to do - rest.
"A healthy seal should be left well alone."
It adds that it is common after stormy weather and high tides: "Many do not need first aid, but we will always try to find someone to check them out just in case."
According to the RSPB, female grey seals spend several weeks feeding their pups and losing up to 65kg in the process. Their website says: "The pups drink two and a half litres of milk every day and pups can grow by as much as 30kg in two weeks.
"After a month or so, females leave their pups and head back out to sea where they feed and mate again.
"The pups can spend up to two weeks all alone on the beach while they build up the courage and the right fur to take the plunge into the sea and learn to fish for themselves."
The UK coast is home to roughly 38% of the world’s population of grey seals, of around 110,000 individuals, reports Countryfile.
It is not the first time marine life has been spotted in Folkestone.
The sighting was deemed unusual, as most dolphins travel in pod rather than residing on their own.
The 'celebrity' mammal, which was actually female, made a home at a rock groyne in Seabrook in April 2006 and was last seen in November 2007.
During her time in Shepway, Dave suffered several injuries from boat propellers and fishing lines.
If you see a seal you believe to be abandoned, thin or ill, then call BDMLR for advice and assistance on 01825 765546 Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. Alternatively, out of hours or during Bank Holidays, call 07787 433412.
You can also call the RSPCA hotline on 0300 1234 999.