Monday 12 November 2012

Grey seal pup at East Winch Wildlife centre © RSPCAStaff at East Winch Wildlife Centre in Norfolk are bracing themselves for another busy winter – heralded by the arrival of their first grey seal pup.

The grey seal season is now moving into full swing and as a result there will be a large number of grey seal pups born along the coast in the coming days and weeks.

However, the RSPCA is reminding people that if they see a seal pup on its own they need to think first before taking action. The advice is to not immediately rush in and help it – but to watch from a distance and then seek guidance if still needed.

Alison Charles centre manager at the RSPCA centre said: ”We felt that with the arrival of the first grey seal pup at East Winch, it was the right time to remind people of what do if they spot pups along the coastline. Watching seals in their natural habitat is always fascinating, but people must remember to keep their distance and not get too close and to ensure that dogs are kept away from them as well – and that they are always kept on leads.

“Many people are not aware that young grey pups are left on their own by mum for a long period of time. Passersby may therefore mistakenly think that the pup has been abandoned but in almost all situations this is probably not the case.

“We ask that if people do see a young pup on its own – observe it from a distance and if after a long period of time the pup’s circumstances haven’t changed then that is the time to seek expert help.

“As much as seals are adorable to look at, they do bite, and grey seal mothers are very protective and will defend their young, just like any mum would do, if they felt their offspring was under threat.

“We have also heard of instances when people have tried to push a seal pup back into the sea. But if the pup is sick it could potentially have pneumonia and the last thing it needs is being put back in to the cold water.”

She added: “Young moulted pups will often haul out (lie) on the beach to relax and this is perfectly normal behaviour – and does not mean they are sick.

“So simply we are just advising people to think first before acting if you see a seal pup alone and remember the points above, we appreciate that people are only trying to do their best for the seals, but sometimes it is best for humans to not interfere as wildlife has an amazing way of making things right.”

If you do spot a seal in distress please contact the RSPCA cruelty line on 0300 1234 999 for advice.

The first grey seal to arrive at East Winch was found at New Biggin By Sea in Northumberland.
King Arthur as he has since been named was found with his umbilical cord still attached.

The centre normally cares for mostly sick or injured seals, rather than genuine orphaned seals like King Arthur.

The centre is still taking in older common seals as well – many of which have been suffering with lungworm.

The centre cared for 74 grey seals during the last grey season which started in November 2011.

To feed a seal fish for one week costs £23.10. Anyone who is interested in helping the centre with its work can sponsor a seal for a donation of £20. For this you can name a seal.

Donators will also receive a photograph, certificate and six monthly newsletter.

To find out more about sponsoring a seal or to make a donation no matter how small or large and for more information please contact 0300 123 0709 or email:  eastwinch@rspca.org.uk