Grey seal pups are born in late August and September around the Pembrokeshire coast. What do you do if you come across a seal pup on a beach?
- Just because a seal pup is alone and crying does not necessarily mean it’s in danger or been abandoned. Most of the time the seal pup will be fine. It is normal for the mother to leave a pup on its own for a short period.
- Please DO NOT approach the seal pup, keep far away and keep dogs on a lead.
- If you get too close to a seal pup this could scare the mother away and lead to the pup being abandoned.
- Seals may look cute but they give a nasty bite which will get infected with bacteria from their mouths. This has led to people being hospitalised.
For the first three weeks of a seal’s life they are covered in white downy fur and are not ready to swim. DO NOT attempt to get them back in the water.
Picture 1: Healthy seal pup with white fur © Ken Barnett
At around 3-4 weeks of age the pups are weaned and begin to lose their fluffy white coat. This can make them look a bit patchy. At this time, the pups are no longer reliant on their mothers for food and will go off on their own and learn how to live independently. It is common for these newly weaned seals to find rest in public places as they have not yet learnt the difference between public and private beaches. Please be aware of this as you access beaches and do not let dogs of leads until you are sure the whole beach is clear of seals.
How to decide whether the seal pup needs help?
- If the seal is injured
- If you have observed the (fluffy, white) pup for 24 hours and there has been no sign of the mother.
- A healthy pup will look big and fat without a neck whereas a malnourished pup will look thin and will have a visible neck
- If a seal pup has fully moulted and seems very small and lethargic it may be malnourished.
Picture 2: Malnourished seal pup at Fishguard Lifeboat Station © Anna Elliott
DO NOT attempt to rescue a seal pup by yourself. Leave this to well-trained experts.
If you think a seal pup needs help call Welsh Marine Life Rescue (Terry Leadbetter) on 01646 692943, 07970 285086.