NORTH EAST SEALS

We have seen an increase in seals around our local coastline recently as a result of the breeding of grey seals on the nearby Farne Islands. The majority of these seals are completely healthy and picking inappropriate beaches to have a rest. Disturbance by members of the public and their pets is causing problems for them so this is some general advice for our clients.

Background

The grey seals on the Farne islands are in the process of giving birth to white, fluffy pups that are approximately 13kg, cute but strong and have a nasty bite. They rapidly put on weight by suckling from their mum while wearing this fluffy white coat. They gain approximately 1.5kg per day and by about 3-4 weeks of age they should be 40-50kg. The pup will lose their white fluffy coat and live off the fat stores while learning to feed, which can take a few weeks. During this time these seals can lose up to a third of their bodyweight.

Seals spend a lot of time out of their water resting and digesting their food. Seals also get all of the fluid they require from the food that they eat, they don’t drink water. If a seal is not successful in finding food, or is suffering from an underlying disease process or injury it may require treatment or intervention and dehydration is very common in seal pups.

General advice

NEVER CHASE OR PUT A SEAL BACK INTO THE WATER, THEY HAVE COME OUT OF THE WATER FOR A REASON, PROBABLY A REST!

If you see a seal pup with a white fluffy coat LEAVE IT ALONE! Ideally this pup should be monitored for 12 hours from a safe distance and any people or dogs should be kept away from the pup. This pup is likely to still be dependant on its mother, who is likely to be in the sea nearby and will come out and feed the pup when she feels it is safe to do so, so the longer you stay there the longer she will stay away. Any disturbance to the pup may result in the mother seal abandoning her pup. If there has been no sign of the mother for 12 hours then use the contacts below to report the seal.

If you see a seal pup with no white fluffy coat LEAVE IT ALONE! Keep a safe distance from it as although they may look cute, they carry a very nasty infectious bite. If you are concerned about this seal, there are experienced marine mammal medics in the area who can assess the seal on the beach and liaise with veterinary consultants about whether or not the seal needs intervention. . As a general rule of thumb the following seals will require veterinary assessment:-

  • Underweight seals (Any seal less than 20kg is likely to be underweight)
  • Dehydrated seals (A marine mammal medic will be able to assess this)
  • Seals with injuries
  • Seals with Eye or nose discharge
  • Abnormal breathing patterns (A marine mammal medic will be able to assess this)

The best thing you can do is to stay a safe distance and monitor the seal. You can also make sure other people and animals keep a safe distance until the seal can be assessed by a vet or marine mammal medic. Don’t make it public knowledge by posting the seal on websites as this will cause even more unwanted attention for the seal.

Contact

If you have any concerns about a seal, the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) are a charity that operate a 24/7 rescue service. They will be able to offer advice over the phone and arrange for a local medic to assess the seal and transport it safely to a local veterinary surgery if intervention is necessary.

During office hours during the week contact 01825 765546 or out of normal office hours (i.e. nights, weekends and bank holidays) contact 07787 433412

PLEASE SHARE THIS ADVICE TO PREVENT UNNECESSARY DISTURBANCE OF OUR LOCAL SEAL POPULATION . EVERYONE CAN PLAY A PART IN THE CONSERVATION OF OUR MARINE WILDLIFE.