An orphaned seal pup has arrived at RSPCA Stapeley Grange, marking the start of the ‘seal season’ for the centre.
The common seal pup, who has been nicknamed Squid, arrived at the animal charity’s Stapeley Grange wildlife centre in Nantwich, Cheshire, on Friday (9 August), after being rescued from a beach in Scarborough.
She is the first common seal to be admitted to the centre this season. The centre receives mainly grey seals over the winter but the team are prepared for a smaller number of common seals from June onwards. Last year the centre received four common and 21 grey seals.
Every year the seal names are centered around a theme – with this year’s theme being species from the sea.
Squid is currently being fed fish “mackerel soup” five times a day with the hope that she will quickly gain weight.
Lee Stewart, manager at Stapeley Grange, said: “This poor seal pup was found separated from her mum on the beach and she was in an extremely vulnerable situation.
“After a week or so and pending weight gain and her interest we will try feeding her on whole fish, which can be quite a time-consuming process. Seal pups are initially tube-fed until they work out what they need to do. Once they are taking fish it’s then plain sailing with regards their care, as soon after they will be taking fish by themselves, until then it can be quite stressful for the seal pups and those feeding.”
Once Squid is big enough, she will be transferred to the RSPCA’s East Winch wildlife centre in Norfolk so she can be socialised with other seals. As she was found on the east coast, Squid will then be released with other common seals off the Norfolk coastline.
Once they weigh over 40kg they can be returned back to the wild.
“Squid is just 12kg at the moment so there is a way to go. It is a long process and can take up to five months but it’s all worth the effort when they swim out to sea,” said Lee.
The RSPCA advises that if members of the public spot a seal on a beach that they think might need help, the best thing is to observe them from a distance and do not approach them. Seals are wild animals and have a nasty bite. Never try to return a seal to water yourself, as you may put yourselves and the seal at risk by doing this. It is also advised they keep dogs away from any seal and keep them on leads on beaches that have seal colonies too.
It’s not unusual for a seal pup to be alone, as seal mums leave their pups very early on in life. So if the seal pup looks fit and healthy and shows no signs of distress, it should firstly be monitored from a safe distance for 24 hours. At this time of year, young common seal pups that have just been weaned are now finding food by themselves so they are often seen on the beaches as they need time to rest.
If you see a pup whose mother hasn’t returned within 24 hours, is on a busy public beach, or if you think the seal may be sick or injured, please stay at a safe distance and call the RSPCA’s 24-hour advice and cruelty line on 0300 1234 999. An unhealthy seal pup looks thin (but not bony) with a visible neck, like a dog.
There is more information on the RSPCA website about what to do if you see a seal or pup on the beach alone.
This year is a big year for Stapeley Grange, as it’s the centre’s 25th anniversary. Over this time the team will have helped over 130,000 wild, domestic and exotic animals. You can follow Stapeley on Facebook RSPCAstapeleygrange or Twitter: @RSPCAstapeley or @StapeleyCats to find out what events are planned to celebrate this achievement. You can also sign up to the centre’s quarterly newsletter here: https://www.rspca.org.uk/stapeleynewsletter