Public urged not to chase seals into the sea after influx of pups taken in by RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre
Officials at the RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre have said that the centre is "like a seal orphanage" at the moment following an influx of seal pups.
The centre is currently caring for a dozen common seal pups, most of which have become separated from their mums too soon.
And there are now concerns that as the pupping season is in full swing, well-meaning members of the public who see a pup resting on a beach are causing extra perils for some pups by trying to push them back into the water.
Centre manager Alison Charles said: "Pupping season for the common seals is well under way and we already have a dozen pups to care for at our centre. We are like a seal orphanage at the moment.
“Common seal pups can swim from birth, but sadly some become separated from their mums too soon and that’s how they end up in our care.
“However we are becoming increasingly concerned by reports that some members of the public are chasing pups back into the water when they see them resting on the beach.
“This is really concerning because the reason the pup is resting on the beach is likely because they are exhausted due to being so young and still building up their strength.
“They haul onto the beach to catch their breath and rest – but we are hearing reports that people have been chasing the seals back into the water, which is really dangerous especially if they are already exhausted.
“We’ve heard of more than half a dozen instances already this year about pups being chased off of beaches across the region, but what's more worrying is how many more instances like this are happening which we have not been made aware of."
Alison said they are currently caring for one seal, who has been named Cannellini – all of the pups have received bean or pea-themed names, who was rescued from Corton in Suffolk on Sunday, July 12.
It was understood that the day before, he had been chased back in the sea at Lowestoft in Suffolk.
“He’s tiny at just 9.35kg and is clearly exhausted, so like all the other pups that arrive dehydrated he has been given an oral rehydration solution every three hours," Alison added.
"The pups are usually dehydrated because they have been sitting on a beach in the sun or haven't been fed by their mum for a few days.”
The common seal orphan pups at the centre are:
- Beanz - male 7.8kg Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire admitted on 4th June
- Chickpea - female 11kg Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex, admitted on 23rd June
- Black eyed pea - male one eye injured - 6.6kg Felixstowe, Suffolk admitted on 24th June
- Quinoa - female 8.45kg Hunstanton, Norfolk admitted on 25th June
- Has bean - male 10.6kg Shoeburyness, Essex, admitted on 28th June
- Chilli Bean - male Old Hunstanton, Norfolk, admitted on 28th June
- Sweet Pea - male 11.55kg Snettisham, Norfolk, admitted on 29th June
- Butter Bean - female 10.8kg Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, admitted on 1st July
- Cocoa Bean - female 8.5kg Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex admitted on 1st July
- Cannellini - male 9.35kg Corton, Suffolk admitted on12th July
- Mung bean - male 11.3kg Snettisham, Norfolk, admitted on 12th July
- Pigeon pea - male 10kg Essex, admitted on 12th July
Common seal pups weigh between 8kg and 16kg at birth and are with their mums for three weeks.
As the pups can swim from birth some are separated from their mum too soon, and end up in care at the centre in the early part of the season – many of which have lost weight.
The road to recovery for the pups can be as long as five months and the path of rehabilitation following the initial oral rehydration solution can include progressing on to fish soup, which is a liquidised herring and oral rehydration solution via a stomach tube.
The next phase is trying to feed them small herring - in which staff assist - and from this they will move on to feeding by themselves. They are moved into one of the pools to mix with one other seal so they have less human contact to ensure they do not imprint on their human carers.
Finally they move into a deep pool with more seals so they can improve their fitness and ability to compete for fish.
Once they reach their ideal weight and are fit and healthy they are released back to the wild.
The RSPCA also warns that it is important that the public never approach seals and keep any dogs well away and on a lead, as these are wild animals and can have a nasty bite.
The RSPCA advises the public not to approach pups they see, but monitor them from a safe distance for a 24-hour period, to see if the mother returns before contacting a rescue team by calling the 24-hour emergency line on 0300 1234 999.
East Winch has an Amazon wish list of items that are most in need, which can be found at https://www.amazon.co.uk/hz/wishlist/ls/2QW97YL6JNRPQ
For more information about what to do if you see a seal or pup on the beach alone, visit www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/wildlife/orphanedanimals/sealpups.