What you need to know if you spot a seal pup in Pembrokeshire.
Some people walking Pembrokeshire’s beaches at this time of year might be lucky enough to find a seal pup and wonder at its beautiful, silky white coat and its apparent vulnerability in a wet and windy environment. They might also wonder if the pup is in trouble and if they should try to help it.
The answer in most cases is no – leave it alone and don’t disturb it. A quick look out to sea will probably identify the mother waiting patiently just outside the breakers or she might be resting up behind rocks elsewhere on the beach. When you move away, it will not be long before she returns to suckle the pup.
Grey seals pup on Welsh beaches and in sea caves from as early as late August to October. Pups retain their woolly white coats for the first three weeks or so after birth but over that time gradually moult it away to take on their more familiar mottled grey colouration. If suckling regularly, they will quickly put on weight, changing from slim, sleepy animals to become large feisty balls of fat that will readily defend themselves with open mouths and sharp teeth if approached. Keep your distance as seals have a powerful bite that can often carry a dose of nasty bacteria!
If you do not see a mother in the area do not assume that the pup is in trouble. Look carefully at the pup’s condition and behaviour. If it shows little interest or reaction at your approach and just lies there with its eyes closed it just might be sleeping but if awake then look to see for other signs. Is it thin and undernourished? Are the eyes filmy and lack lustre? Are there signs of injury such as lesions, swellings, or abrasions? Are their unpleasant discharges from the eyes, mouth or rear end or blood showing? Only if there are real causes for concern should you consider stepping in to help and even then do not attempt anything yourself. The experts to call in are Terry Leadbetter and his colleague John of Welsh Marine Life Rescue on 01646 692943 or 07970 285086. Terry, who has years of experience of rescuing seals, will be able to assess the situation and take the action necessary to give it the care it needs to get it well and back to sea as soon as possible.
The photographs show a seal pup being rescued by Terry and John of Welsh Marine Life Rescue. Found in poor condition on Aberfelin Beach near Trefin in north Pembrokeshire by local environmentalist David Gardner last weekend the pup will be taken to a Care Centre for recuperation before being returned to the area.
David Gardner, Pisces Environmental & Fisheries Advisor