What to do if you find an injured or abandoned seal
Thankfully for most people seals are usually seen basking on rocks or bobbing around in the water. However the seas around our coast can be a dangerous place. Millions of years of evolution have made seals masters at swimming and hunting fish. What evolution has not prepared them for is the stupidity of humans.
Seals frequently become entangled in lost fishing gear and other jetsam. Modern nylon and plastic ropes can cut these animals to the bone, causing a lingering and painful death. You can help by not dropping litter and dangerous rubbish in the sea or on the beach. It is not only illegal and irresponsible it is a great danger to seals and the other creatures which live around our shores. Better still, why not become an eco-friendly beachcomber? Next time you are on a beach and you find pieces of lost fishing nets, old creels or tangles of fishing line, take them home and dispose of them properly. If you find large items which you cannot take away let the local authority cleansing department know about it.
Young seals, left by their mothers for short periods while they go off to fish, can be endangered if humans or dogs touch them as strange scents can cause the mother to abandon her pup. Should you come across a young seal which is neither injured nor at risk then leave it well alone and, if you can, return a few hours later. If it is still there, it is time to call in the experts.
If you find a seal which is obviously injured or trapped, it is best to get expert help as soon as possible. Remember, seals, even little fluffy pups, are wild animals that pack a powerful bite and can harbour diseases dangerous to humans. You should also remember that the disease which killed thousands of seals in 1988 and returned in 2002 is phocine distemper virus. It's best for both seals and dogs to keep your pet on a lead if you visit an area where seals are present.
There are many seal sanctuaries and rescue centres around the United Kingdom. Visit our Emergency Numbers page if you think a seal needs rescued and go to our links page to learn more about the various sanctuaries.
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