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Baby Grey Seals 4 October 2006

Now is the time that we sometimes see baby grey seals on beaches around the Island and the public are asked to avoid disturbing these animals and to report them to the MSPCA who can decide on the best course of action for their protection.

It is now the main breeding season for grey seals, the species of seal we see most around Manx coasts. At this time of year baby seals are born. They are white and furry and weigh around 14kg (about 2 stone) at birth. Seals are mammals like us and baby seals are fed milk by their mother for the first few weeks of life.

While the baby seal is being fed by its mother it doesn’t go to sea with her but will stay on the beach. This is when the public might encounter young seals and there are some important points to remember to ensure that the seal is not disturbed by people.

Despite looking very vulnerable, a baby seal alone on the beach has not necessarily been abandoned and may be doing fine so the best thing is usually to leave it alone.

We recommend that people who find a young seal:

Stay well back from the seal and don't get too close - its mother may be watching and could be frightened away

Never try to pick it up or handle it - seals can give a nasty bite if they feel threatened

Don't attempt to put it back in the sea – it may not be ready to fend for itself

Don't try to take it home - injured seals need intensive professional care

If you are walking a dog, please ensure the dog cannot worry the pup. Keep your dog on a lead if necessary

Please contact the MSPCA (851672). They have years of experience of seal pups and can assess the seal professionally. They will then decide whether it is well fed and will be best left for its mother to return or if it is underfed or injured and needs treatment.

If you find a dead seal contact the Wildlife and Conservation Division of DAFF (843109)

Once the seal has been reported and is being monitored by the MSPCA keep well away from it so that the pup and its mother have the best chance of behaving normally and surviving.

Most seals will hopefully choose remote, inaccessible beaches to raise their young where they won’t be disturbed by people. Those that we do encounter need minimal disturbance. Seals are protected under the Manx Wildlife Act, so intentionally disturbing or harming a seal is an offence, with a fine of £5000.

Although grey seals are a familiar sight to us on the Isle of Man, they are actually one of the rarest seals in the world. The majority of grey seals in the whole of Europe are found around the British Isles so we have a special responsibility to look after them around our shores.

Contacts:

Jenny Corran, MSPCA - Tel: 851672

Fiona Gell Wildlife and Conservation Officer – Marine, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tel: 843109

Email: fiona.gell@gov.im

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