Last week I visited the Seal Sanctuary at Gweek (such a fun place name to say – give it a go!). I got to find out a bit about their work rescuing and rehabilitating seals.
The Sanctuary rescues seals in need, provides hospital care for them, rehabilitates them, and, all being well, releases them back into the wild. It also provides a home for those that wouldn’t survive in the wild.
We’re at the start of the pupping season for grey seals in the UK. So far the weather has been very good, but when the weather turns stormy some pups may need help due to injuries, illness or being separated from their mothers. The Sanctuary is enjoying a brief respite from the busyness of dealing with summer visitors, before the rescue season really gets going. Only one pup was at the hospital when I visited, but give it a month or two and the hospital is likely to be crowded.
I’m a big fan of seals. I’ve had the privilege of snorkelling with them several times, and it’s amazing seeing them in the water. So rescuing poorly seals sounds like a good thing to me. With any wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, there’s always a concern about how the creature will cope when released back into the wild. Is their recovery complete? Have they lost a healthy fear of humans? And especially if they’ve been rescued as youngsters, will their instincts kick in and help them to hunt, navigate, and do everything else they need to?
I was particularly interested in a poster displayed at the Sanctuary, reporting outcomes from seals they have released back into the wild. It was very encouraging to see that rescued seals can go on to thrive back in the wild. Some have crossed the channel to France, or been sighted off Ireland or the Scilly Isles, so they clearly haven’t lost their swimming ability. Some females have successfully bred following release.
This seems like a good reason to support the Sanctuary to me, so if you’re in Cornwall, why not pay them a visit?