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The Cornish Seal Sanctuary

There is something so mesmerising about the wonderful seals that inhabit our Cornish seas. To walk along the coast lines and see them bathing in the coves is a sight I will never get bored of…..

Being very eco conscious and regular beach cleaners, we were very excited to receive an invitation to go and see the tremendous work The Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek are doing. And also then to attend the first seal pup release of the year.The Cornish Seal sanctuary is located in the quaint little village of Gweek and is nestled along the side of the picturesque Helford river.

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary was founded by Ken Jones back in 1958. He rescued a seal pup that had unfortunately washed up on St Agnes beach. Back then he only had one pool and soon realised he would need more space once news of his rescues spread.In 1975 The Cornish Seal Sanctuary moved to Gweek, slowly growing in size as more and more seals were being rescued from the Cornish coast lines. Today, the sanctuary covers over 42 acres of land and has various pools, including nursery, convalescent and resident pools. It also has its own specially designed hospital, which, has individual isolation pools, as well as treatment and preparation areas. The sanctuary rescues between 50 – 70 seal pups a year. The sanctuary is also home to penguins, otters and some friendly farm animals.The staff at the sanctuary were all very welcoming and happy to answer any questions about the animals. It makes a great day out for the dogs too. Mine loved it and were amazed by the seal pups.
We quickly discovered there are a few varieties of seals at the sanctuary including Grey Seals and Common Seals, as well Californian and Patagonian Sea Lions.

The sanctuary was lovely to walk around, we visited the seal hospital first where we met the 6 pups that I was soon to see be released back into the wild.The pups we met were:

Crofty – on the 17th December 2017 at just 8 weeks old he was rescued from Port Issac and had wounds to his flippers. He was moved the rehabilitation pool on the 27th December 2017.Ted – On the 16th December, at 8 weeks old he was rescued at Gwithian. He unfortunately had bite wounds, eye ulcers, a respiratory infection and had broken his jaw. The vets managed to fix his jaw. Ted was then moved to the rehabilitation pool on the 20th February where he was soon competing with the other pups for food.Warleggan – on 5th December 2017 at just 8 weeks old he was rescued from Praa Sands, he had a respiratory infection, bite wounds and an eye ulcer. He was moved to the outside nursery pool on 30th December 2017 for his next stage of rehabilitation and to learn how to compete for fish with other rescued seal pups.Grambler – on 6th December 2017 at 8 weeks old he was rescued from Poldhu Cove. He had superficial wounds and a respiratory infection. On the 25th February 2018, Grambler was moved to the rehabilitation pool to gain the last couple of kilograms of weight he needed.Alfred – On the 16th December 2017 at just 4 weeks old he was rescued from Wanson beach, he had wounds to his body and slippers. He also had an abscess which was treated with antibiotics. Alfred was moved to rehabilitation pool on 28th December 2017 after taking a little while to learn to fend for himself.Charlestown – On the 5th November at just 5 weeks old he rescued from Towan beach. He was very underweight, had superficial wounds, a respiratory infection and an ulcer in his left eye leaving him blind. But, he was still able to fend well for himself. He was moved to the rehabilitation pool on February 25th to gain his last bit of weight needed before release.The hospital was so lovely; the pups all had their own individual rooms with their own pools. I especially liked that there was a public viewing area. We then moved onto the nursey pools this is where the pups start to learn how to fend for themselves and interact.The main purpose of the sanctuary is to rescue, rehabilitate and release, but unfortunately not all of there residents can released back into the wild. There is a community of adult seals that have a permanent home at the sanctuary. You will see this lovely bunch of characters during one of their feeding talks that they have throughout various times of the day. A great way to meet the residents and to learn all about them and what you can do to help protect our marine life.On March the 26th I was invited to attend the seal release of the 6 pups I had earlier me. They were being released at Porthtowan beach. It was such a lovely morning and was so wonderful to see these now very healthy pups going back to where they belong.The team at the seal sanctuary work very hard to make sure these pups get back to a clean bill of health. They help them get up to their required 40kg of weight and work around the clock to treat any injuries they may have. A truly fabulous team!             

So how can you help……?

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary has now become part of the marine life charity The Sea Life Trust so you could raise funds for them or donate to the charity, As well as securing the long-term future of the sanctuary it will strengthen the Trust’s fund-raising capacity, enabling it to invest in more vital local, national and international marine conservation efforts.

You can adopt a seal through The Cornish Seal Sanctuary; the money goes towards the running of the sanctuary and also gives you 2 admissions to the sanctuary. You also receive a profile of your chosen seal as well as a certificate.You can also take part in beach cleans. the seal sanctuary regularly runs organised beach cleans (visit their social medias for details) or you can take part in one of your own. Head over to the 2 minute beach clean website for some beach cleaning inspiration.What to do if you find a seal pup …..

Adult seals will give birth on scheduled beaches, if you find a “whitecoat” pup then it is really important to keep your distance, as the mothers can be easily scared causing them to abandon their pups before they can fend for themselves.

Seal pups finding their way around the coast in their first few weeks will sometimes come out to rest in public places, so try not to disturb them as they may be exhausted.
However if you do discover a seal pup that is in distress or alone, please call The Cornish Seal Sanctuary on 01326 221361 and/or The British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) team on 01825 765546 during office hours and then after 5pm please call 07787 433412.

BDMLR volunteers are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

If you have seen a seal disturbed in to the sea as a result of human activity or a dead seal, please call the Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s marine hotline : 0345 201 26 26.

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