Last week was #NationalSealDay, so we headed down to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary at Gweek to learn more about what this local charity gets up to!
This was the first time I’d visited since I was really young (less than 8 years old maybe?) and I was surprised at how little I remembered! Based in the cute port village of Gweek at the point of Helford river, the sanctuary is well known around Cornwall and the UK for the work they do in rescuing and rehabilitating seals all year round.
About the Cornish Seal Sanctuary
The seal sanctuary is part of the SEA LIFE Trust charity, and provides expert care for sick, injured and distressed seals from all over the UK. We get a lot of Grey Seals here in Cornwall, and the sanctuary rescues over 70 of these from local waters each year, which is why having a base here is so important.
The Cornish Seal Sanctuary is open to the public too so that everyone can learn more about the seals and enjoy a day out surrounded by nature too. They have 42 acres of land, with nature and woodland walks to explore, as well as paddock animals, penguins, sea lions, and even beavers, to keep you entertained! There are talks and feeding sessions throughout the day so you can ask questions and get to know these creatures in more detail. As well as reintroducing seals back into the wild, they also have some permanent seal residents as well.
I love how dog friendly the sanctuary is too! You can bring dogs pretty much everywhere on the site (they just aren’t allowed inside the cafe, or in the seal hospital), and there are water bowls and dog bins dotted around, plus plenty of pretty walks and picnic benches to rest at as well.
We brought Maizy and Pepper with us to meet the seals! I always think Maizy looks a bit like a seal when she’s swimming through the water…
About Seals in Cornwall
Here in Cornwall if you’ve ever seen a seal floating about or lazing around in a secluded cove, it’s probably a Grey Seal! They can often be seen doing something called ‘bottling’ or ‘logging’, which is where they bob around vertically in the water to stay afloat.
These amazing animals can stay under water to dive for food for up to 45 minutes at a time, and are one of the few animals that can actually smell under water!
We do also get Common Seals in Cornwall (although they’re quite rare – ironically!), and you can see some of these at the sanctuary on your visit as well.
About the #PutPupsFirst campaign
September to March marks pup season for the Grey Seals, but sadly many of these babies end up getting washed up on our beaches, stranded, abandoned or injured by the rough seas. The Cornish Seal Sanctuary typically rescues anywhere between 50 – 70 seal pups at this time of year, many of which are spotted by locals, which is why it’s so important to be aware and keep an eye out!
Pups are first taken to their Seal Hospital, before being put into isolation pens at the sanctuary, where they’re monitored closely before having access to the main hospital pens once they’re ready for swimming in water again.
After a while, they might be moved to the nursery pools where they can start to interact with other seals and learn how to catch fish and fend for themselves. This whole process can cost up to £2000, which is why the sanctuary has their Put Pups First appeal that you can donate to on JustGiving.
How you can help!
As well as donating to this season’s specific appeal, there are a few other ways you can support this Cornish charity:
- First and foremost, help to keep Cornwall’s beaches and oceans clean from harmful plastic and debris by always taking your litter home, or doing a beach clean!
- Keep an eye out when you’re out and about by the sea this season; learn more about what to do if you find one here.
- Visit the Cornish Seal Sanctuary yourself to learn more and support them
- Sponsor a pup and get the chance to name them and receive updates on how your seal pup is progressing
- Send a donation online, or start a fundraiser!
Have you ever seen a seal when out and about by the sea in Cornwall?
*We were invited along as a press trip, but all opinions are my own.