The pup rescue season has begun for the Cornish Seal Sanctuary with the arrival of a common seal named ‘Popeye’ and a grey seal named ‘Matilda’.
Popeye was rescued on 31st August from Padstow due to a few minor wounds on his body and a nasty eye infection. Matilda was rescued on 3rd September after being found on Crackington beach with superficial wounds and a high temperature.
Both the pups are currently in isolation which is the first initial stage of the pup rehabilitation programme at the Sanctuary allowing the team to closely monitor the pups; give medication and hand feed the pups if necessary. The Sanctuary predominantly rescues grey seals, as this is the most common seal species found around the Cornish coastline but each season the sanctuary do rescue a few common seals and Popeye was in fact the first rescued pup of the season.
Common seals pupping season is normally June – July, and unlike grey seals, common seals moult their white coat inside the uterus and are born with a brown coat, ready to swim. This means that common seals will often breed in tidal areas such as estuaries and can be seen swimming or diving just hours after birth.
Grey seals are not as initially independent as the Common Seal, they spend around 3 weeks suckling from mum followed by a few more weeks shedding their white coat – as it is not waterproof they need to shed this before joining adults in the water. This means they are often seen hauled out on the beaches.
As it is now grey seal pup season, the Sanctuary has some helpful tips on what to do if you come across a seal pup on the beach;
1. Do keep your distance
If a pup has a fluffy white coat, it still needs its mother. She will have spotted you long before you saw her and she will hopefully be watching from a safe distance out at sea. A mum will only return to feed her pup if she thinks it is safe to do so.
2. Don’t touch the pup
It is a wild animal with sharp teeth. A mother may reject her pup if it smells of people, so keep downwind and out of sight.
3. Don’t put any seal back in the sea
A white coated pup spends most time out of water. All seals haul out onto land to rest, digest and socialise all year round.
4. Do take a good look from distance
If the pup is alone, thin, injured or seems unwell (noisy breathing, coughing, runny nose) it may need help.
5. Do something about it
Telephone Cornish Seal Sanctuary for expert advice on 01326221 361 or British Divers Marine Life Rescue on 01825 765 546 giving an accurate location.