THIS is the picture of the first baby seal pup to be spotted this season by a wildlife research group on the Roseland peninsula.
The image shows a mother seal and her newborn, thought to be about two days old, lying on a beach together last Wednesday afternoon.
It was snapped by photographer Billy Heaney, who was on board vessel Free Spirit.
Mr Heaney was on the boat with ten others, including several students from Penryn's Tremough campus, on a dedicated seal data collection trip with AK Wildlife Cruises, based in Falmouth.
The team had been recording the behaviour of the female near the shoreline when she made her way onto the beach and, to the astonishment of all on the boat, a pup emerged from the back of a cave and suckled from the female – nicknamed L'Oreal for her head swish upon first sighting.
Captain Keith Leeves, known as Captain Keith, described the "amazing" moment.
He said: "There are quite a lot of seals returning to this area for pupping season, which is around the end of September and into early October.
"We are still trying to find out where they go when they leave through research which is what we were doing on this day with the students.
"We have set up this dedicated route so once a week we go out and try and record the seals' behaviour.
"We had been observing a pregnant female for the past two weeks and we felt something was imminent.
"We have an area which we know is a designated pupping site. We arrived there and managed to observe the female in the water with a large male.
"And then to our amazement the mother hauled out of the water and very gently waddled up the beach and entered a little cave – and there was her newborn baby.
"It was most wonderful to see. The pup was only around two days old.
"To our amazement, after she (the mother) had gone into the cave she came back down towards us as if she was showing her pup to us. We think we have the next two weeks to a month when we should find a few more."
After watching the wonderful sight for several minutes, the cruise left the young family in peace to search for more seals getting ready to pup this autumn.
AK Wildlife Cruises is a wildlife-watching boat cruise based in Falmouth.
It explores the nearby coastline year round.
For more information visit www.akwildlifecruises.co.uk