RSPCA: Stormy waters – seal pups suffering following severe weather

Influx of poorly seals at RSPCA wildlife centres

An influx of storm-blown young seals have been taken to RSPCA wildlife centres for help

after bad weather hit just as they had been weaned.

There are now nearly 60 very sick seals in the four centres, located at different ends of the country, with a large number of them arriving in the last windy week.

It is thought that the rough weather came at the worst time possible for grey seal pups – just at the point when they had been left by their mothers and were set to launch themselves into the sea on their own.

Alison Charles, manager at East Winch Wildlife Centre in Norfolk, said they were caring for a total of 41 seals, at least 24 of which had come in during the recent bad weather. She said: “There have been about four coming in a day since the wind started, most of them just unable to deal with the conditions out there.

“There have been some older common seals who are very sick and covered with wounds from being bashed against the pebbly beach, but most are juvenile grey seals. It is very unfortunate timing as the winds and rough seas came at the exact point in the year when grey seals are left to fend for themselves and make their own way into the water.

“It would be incredibly hard work for the inexperienced swimmer to navigate such waters, and many of them just couldn’t cope and were found floundering on beaches or rocks.

“In one case, a pup was found by a kindly fisherman who felt so sorry for it he put his fishing tent around it for protection while waiting for the rescue services to arrive. He even fed it some of the fish he had caught.”

East Winch is known for its specialist facilities for seals and nearby seal population so was worst hit by the situation and had by far the largest influx of storm-blown seals. But all three of the RSPCA’s other wildlife centres were also affected – with many seals brought to them after being found stranded on beaches or rocks, thought to be victims of stormy conditions.

West Hatch Wildlife Centre in Somerset has 10 seals in its care in total – six since the start of the blustery weather – with two storm-blown youngsters coming in one morning after one stormy night (Wednesday December 4).

Mallydams Wood centre in East Sussex has had six since December – most of which were juveniles rescued from beaches, and even Stapeley Grange in Cheshire, which due to its location does not normally have the same numbers of seals coming through its doors, had two poorly juveniles in over the Christmas period.

Anyone who finds a distressed seal should call the RSPCA cruelty line for advice on 0300 1234 999.

The RSPCA East Winch Wildlife centre is part of the RSPCA’s national network of animal welfare establishments. Help us to continue our work and rescue animals like these seals by making a donation. Ring: 0300 1238000 (24 hours) Website:

Notes to editors

— For more information please call the press office on 0300 123 0244/0288

RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS
Press office direct lines: 0300 123 0244/0288 Fax: 0303 123 0099
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