Recent storms and gales have come at the worst possible time for breeding grey seals around the coast of Cornwall.
Vulnerable pups just days out of the womb have found themselves tossed like flotsam by huge waves, and battered by relentless wind and rain.
As a consequence Britain´s biggest seal rescue facility The National Seal Sanctuary at Gweek in Cornwall, has already taken in 21 casualties...including a record 11 still wearing the white coats which they sport for only three weeks after their birth.
´These youngster have doubtless lost touch with their mums in the horrible weather conditions we´ve suffered lately,´ said Tamara Cooper Senior Animal Care Assistant.
´Luckily they´ve been spotted by concerned walkers or RSPCA officers before starving to death,´ she added.
Just one of the 21 rescued pups was too weak and malnourished to be revived. Of the rest, seven are still receiving round-the-clock care in the Sanctuary´s purpose-built hospital and another 13 have moved to outdoor convalescence pools.
´The worry is that we´re already operating at full stretch, and we´ve not really hit what is traditionally the busiest rescue period, which is over the next three or four weeks,´ said Tamara.
The news has not been much better from elsewhere in the country, with many of the smaller rescue facilities at full capacity, prompting RSPCA officials to ring right round the country to find facilities able to take any more casualties that may come in over the next few days.
Staff at Gweek are hoping for a spell of milder weather, but bracing themselves to possibly exceed even last winter´s record toll of 51 rescues.