First pup of the season arrives at Cornish Seal Sanctuary amid ‘difficult’ summer

Thursday, 25 August 2022

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary has taken in its first pup of the season already, as the charity nears the end of a ‘difficult’ summer.

Parsley the pup was rescued on Thursday, amid fears she was starving to death alone on a small beach near Portheras Cove, West Cornwall.

Volunteer medics from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) were first alerted to her the day before, and the decision was taken to monitor her in case her mother was nearby.

However, after keeping eyes on her for 24 hours, she was transferred to Head & Head Vets in Helston following signs of starving behaviour, such as roaming the beach and calling out.

On arrival, vets found she was likely just a few days old, with her umbilicus still attached, an ulcer in her left eye and weighing in at just 10.3kg – less than the standard 14kg for a new-born pup.

The rescue comes during a difficult summer for the sanctuary, as rising bills and inflation see many visitors reduce spending across the county. Visitor attractions have been hit the hardest, according to Visit Cornwall’s latest trends, as people opt for a free day out to save on holiday costs.

Jana Sirova, General Manager at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary, says: “It has been a tough year for many families, charities and businesses, as we’ve seen lots of budgets being tightened to accommodate the hit of cost of living right now.

“However, as a charity, we need all the support we can get to ensure we can continue to care for these beautiful marine mammals, like Parsley, around our coastline for years to come.

“Whether it’s donating to this year’s pup season appeal, visiting our site or even sharing our social media posts, every little helps.”

Now, Parsley is being cared for in the sanctuary’s Seal Hospital, with regular night feeds and continuous monitoring until she can reach full health and return back into the wild.

Tamara Cooper, Curator at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary, says: “Bringing pups into the sanctuary is always a last resort.

“Though they will receive expert care from our team, the best thing for a pup is to spend as much time with its mother as possible - it’s never an easy decision to take a pup off the beach.”

On average, it costs around £2,000 to rescue and rehabilitate a seal for release, which is funded entirely by donations and visits to the charity’s site in Gweek, Helston.

Last year saw a busy pup season in Cornwall, with the sanctuary taking in more than 50 pups through autumn 2021 and spring 2022.

Rescued from various spots around the Cornish coastline, each pup is monitored and treated in our Seal Hospital, before being moved into the rehabilitation pools for ongoing support before heading back into the wild.

What to do if you find a pup on the beach

If you see 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.  

To find out more about the Cornish Seal Sanctuary and its mission, click here. You can support the new pup season by donating to the team’s Wishlist Appeal here.