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I've found a Seal pup, what should I do?

The first thing to do if you find a seal pup is to establish whether or not it needs help. Young Grey seals don't enter the sea for the first few weeks of their lives. They have a thick white fur coat which can become easily waterlogged. Usually they only enter the water after the fur has been moulted out. Common Seals however, should be up and out swimming just a few hours after birth.

Adult seals will leave their young on the shore for sometimes long periods of time while they are out at sea. If the pup is just sleeping and doesn't appear to be in immediate danger or have any apparent injuries then most likely there is nothing wrong.

If you are worried that the pup is orphaned then you must observe it from a distance. If you stand to close you may disturb the mother from coming ashore. Make sure that other people and dogs do not approach the pup or try and usher it into the sea. Grey Seals with fur may drown.

Outward signs that there may be a problem include the nutrition of the pup. If it is underweight it may have visible ribs and hips. It may have loose, baggy or wrinkled skin. If it is ill you may notice it coughing or wheezing, it may have a thick mucus round its eyes, mouth or nostrils or it may be struggling to move. If the pup is injured you may see blood on its coat or skin or it may be favouring one flipper.

The best thing to do in a situation like this is to call a rescue centre that takes in seals and ask for advice.

Do not try and handle the seal pup yourself! No matter how cute they look you must remember that seals are wild animals and even young pups have a severe bite!

Do not try and feed it, if the pup is not yet weaned from its mothers milk you may make it extremely sick.

Occasionally healthy seal pups may be found in the strangest places. Mothers can be disturbed after giving birth and abandon the pup who may then stray for miles. If you find a pup in a dangerous place, ie. on a road, or in a heavily populated area try and herd it into a safe area before calling for help.

Here are some contacts for Marine Animal rescue;

British Divers Marine Life Rescue

Marine Conservation Society

Scarborough Sealife Seal Rescue