Common, Un-common in Cornwall

The National Seal Sanctuary received calls on 9th November 2005 about an injured seal that had hauled out on the slipway by the lifeboat station in St Ives.

Seal Sanctuary staff Tamara Cooper and Rachael Vine arrived at St Ives to find the seal basking in the sunshine on the slipway, with a crowd of people looking on.

Tamara approached the seal without disturbing it, on initial assessment, the grey seal seemed around a year old with some grazes to the underside of his flippers. After this inspection Sanctuary staff needed to take a closer look at the grazes, here it would be decided if the seal would need to be taken back to Gweek. The seal was in very good condition, and no treatment was given as best thing for the grazes would be the salt water.

"The grazes were just superficial, so no treatment was needed. On closer inspection it became more apparent that this seal was a common seal and not a grey." said Tamara "The Cornish coast if well known for it´s grey seals, but has never seen a common seal in these waters. Common seals can be found in Scotland and the Wash, and we know of a small colony in Bournemouth, but never in Cornwall. The Common seal, from the size was around 4 years old and apart from the grazes was in a healthy condition." added Tamara

Grey seals and Common seals differ in a number of ways including size and colour but the most obvious is the nose. Grey seals have a longer face and snout and their nostrils do not meet at the end like the Common seal.

Other marine groups have spotted common seals, but could not be sure as they were some distance away, either on a cliff or the seal was off shore.

If anyone does spot a seal that they think may need attention, then please call the Sanctuary on 01326 221361.

Photo copyright of Chris Oates

For more details, please contact Tamara Cooper or Rachael Vine on 01326 221361

Press Release date: 9th November 2005