Seal Rescue Ireland has expressed concern about the number of seals washing up along the coast.

Last year saw the highest number of reports ever, with 202 reports of dead seals around the country - more than double the number in 2019.

Seal Rescue Ireland has said 47 seals have already washed up since the beginning of this year, compared to 32 for the same period last year.

Executive Director Melanie Croce said the majority of seals are washing up in the southeast, particularly in counties Cork, Wexford and Waterford.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, she said they are confident that the 47 reports they have received this year are all individual seals, rather than multiple members of the public contacting them about a smaller number of seals.

She said severe storms "are on the rise because of climate change" and this makes survival "very, very hard" for seals.

Another possible factor could be "bycatch", which she explained is when seals get caught in fishing nets and drown.

"This mostly happens offshore where we don't see it," Ms Croce said. "But because of the storms, we're thinking that a lot of these seals are now washing up."

She said they are collaborating with other organisations to ensure they have a complete set of data.

Seal Rescue Ireland is in discussions with both the National Parks and Wildlife Service and UCD, Ms Croce said, and they are keen to get some post mortem examinations done on some of the bodies.

"To really try to determine what the cause of deaths is," Ms Croce said. "But they are an indicator species, so it does give us insight as to what's happening in the environment, and there's a lot of threats out there."