Cornish Seal Sanctuary issues seal pup warning amid wild winter storms

Friday, 02 February 2024

Blustery storm conditions have sparked a warning from the Cornish Seal Sanctuary about young pups struggling along our coastlines.

The Sanctuary, based in Gweek, near Helston, is urging people to keep their eyes peeled for the grey seal pups amid a flurry of calls from concerned wildlife spotters.

With the larger waves and strong winds, many pups have already been spotted taking shelter on beaches, leading to fears of increased risk of human disturbance.

Tamara Cooper, Curator for the Cornish Seal Sanctuary, says: “It’s not unusual in these conditions to spot young pups venturing further up the beach to protect themselves from the difficult water conditions.

“However, this does leave them more vulnerable to disturbance, such as dogs on the beach, or well-meaning beachgoers. Disturbance can lead to pups not getting the vital rest they need to recover from rough seas, and can even lead to serious injury if startled back into the water.”

With that in mind, and the increased numbers of resting seals during the winter breeding season, please do keep your distance if you do spot a pup nearby.”

The warning comes as the Sanctuary team manages a full Seal Hospital, alongside numerous pups recovering in the nursery and rehabilitation pools on site.

With more than 45 pups through the doors since the new season started in September, and still some weeks to go, the cases don’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

Tamara adds: “It's been a really busy season for our team and our partners British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR). With the huge efforts of dedicated volunteer medics responding to every call-out I'm so proud of how everyone pulls together to give pups in Cornwall the best chance of survival.”

Support our seals this February

The charity is also reminding supporters that the ‘Friends of the Sanctuary’ Locals’ Annual Pass sale is now live, which directly raises funds for rescued pups and the wider marine mammal care programme.

The pass, which is only on sale through February (1st – 29th), is available to anyone living within a TR, PL or EX postcode, and is the charity’s ‘thank you’ to supporters from across the region every year.

General Manager Jana Sirova says: “Despite the winter weather, now is actually the perfect time to come and see what the Cornish Seal Sanctuary is all about, to meet the pups in our hospital to see our conservation work come to life.

“Every visit or pass purchased goes directly into supporting the pups in our care, and we couldn’t do our vital work without you.”

With the pass, guests will receive a discounted entry for unlimited visits within 12 months, as well as 20% off the café and gift shop (don’t forget to bring proof of address on pick-up!).

To find out more, click here.

What to do if you find a seal pup on the beach

Beachgoers are advised to keep dogs on leads and children away, and not to approach or chase the seal back into the sea.

If you believe the pup is in distress or needs medical attention, you can find the signs to look out for and what to do next. You can also call the Cornish Seal Sanctuary on 01326 221361 or the BDMLR 24-hour hotline on 01825 765546 for more advice.