Emergency contacts

If you see a seal that may be abandoned, thin, ill or injured, then call for advice and assistance from:

British Divers Marine Life Rescue 24 hr Hotline 01825 765546 or RSPCA Hotline 0300 1234 999 

 

Advice upon finding a Seal

 

If you find a seal on a beach, watch it from a distance. Do not approach the animal. Seals regularly haul out on our coasts – it is part of their normal behaviour and, in fact, they can spend more time out of the water, digesting their food and resting than in it. Therefore, finding a seal on the beach does not mean there is necessarily a problem and do not chase it into the sea as this may stop it from doing what it needs to do – rest. A healthy seal should be left alone.

Do not approach a seal, or allow children or dogs near it. Seals are wild animals and although they look cute, they will defend themselves aggressively if necessary. They can give a nasty bite, which will become infected by the bacteria that live in a seal's mouth. Seal bites require urgent medical attention and will require a long course of specific medication.

After stormy weather or high tides, seals will haul out on beaches to rest and regain their strength. Many do not need first aid, so contacting trained staff on one of the below numbers will ensure they are properly assessed just in case.

However, if there is a problem, there are a number of things you may see:

  • Displaced: If you see a seal with a white, long-haired coat in the autumn/winter (like the picture), or you see a small seal (less than a metre (three feet) in length) alone between August and December, then it is probably still suckling from its mother. Check the sea regularly for any sign of an adult seal.

  • Thin: Signs of malnutrition include visible ribs, hips and neck and perhaps a rather baggy, wrinkled skin.

  • Sick: Signs of ill health include: coughing, sneezing or noisy, rapid breathing and possibly thick mucus coming from the nose, wounds or swellings, particularly on flippers, cloudy eyes, or thick mucus around them, or possibly one eye kept closed most of the time. A seal showing little response to any disturbance going on around it (although remember they could be soundly asleep) could also be a sign of ill health.

  • Entanglement: Seals are susceptible to being entangled in fishing gear and other debris. heavy commercial gear will be obvious, but monofilament nets and line can be hard to see, and could be caught around the neck, flippers and body. Sometimes seals can have nasty wounds due to fishing gear and marine debris cutting into their bodies.

Just one other piece of advice, please DO NOT post locations of seals on social media and this is especially important during or awaiting rescues. Social media has the ability to quickly spread news and attract crowds which in turn can add stress to seals and hinder our rescue attempts. For these reasons, Gower Seal Group never identifies exact locations of seals. If you do wish to post a photograph or comment, please keep the location as vague as possible.

If you see a seal that may be abandoned, thin, ill or injured, then call for advice and assistance from:

British Divers Marine Life Rescue 24 hr Hotline 01825 765546 or

RSPCA Hotline 0300 1234 999