Storms mean Norfolk’s seals need extra care

A Norfolk wildlife hospital is caring for more than 40 seal pups after the recent rough weather.

High winds earlier this week 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, near King's Lynn, said they were caring for a total of 41 seals, at least 24 of which had come in during the recent bad weather.

'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,' she said.

'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.'

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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 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.

Mallydams Wood centre in East Sussex has had six since December – most of which were juveniles rescued from beaches.

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

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