Female seal on beachThe National Seal Sanctuary at Gweek has been monitoring the wild seals around the popular harbour - side towns and villages of Cornwall. We are aware of the number and age of the seals inhabiting each of the harbours, especially those present in Falmouth, St Ives and Newquay.
There is always a "conflict of interests" when wild animals and human activities overlap and wild seals in popular holiday resorts are no exception. We have attended call outs for a number of individuals with fishing hooks, netting and propeller injuries in the last six weeks and have been following their progress with close links to harbour masters and the local coastguards. Unfortunately, the action which can be taken when dealing with a wild adult seal is limited, purely because of the problem of catching and safely restraining the animal whilst medical examination or drug administration takes place.

In answer to the recent publicity surrounding seals biting members of the public, signs warning people of the aggressive nature of grey seals have been erected; these already having been approved by the local harbour authorities. Information regarding the diseases the seals can transmit to people has also been available. In particular, problems arise when the seals are approaching maturity when they become less inquisitive and more aggressive. Easy food supplies are well guarded!

The best way to enjoy these animals safely is to limit hand feeding and to avoid interaction with the animals in the water. In particular, not to swim in between a wild seal and the fishing boat which is perhaps bringing in the next free meal.
In the near future the sanctuary hopes to reach a decision with the respective Borough councils to see how this problem can be avoided. We are hoping that a suitable arrangement can be made to safeguard the welfare of both the seals and the public for future tourist seasons.
Male seal on beach