Seal Rescuers To Probe the DNA of
Rare "Black" Seal Pups

Seal rescuers are planning a DNA check of two rescued black seal pups to see if a new strain of black or "melanistic" grey seals is colonising our South West coastline.

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary admitted its first black pup in its 59-year (?) history in December 2014.

Christened Badger (photos right & below) that pup has become a permanent resident following the discovery that he suffers from a thyroid condition and needs regular medication.
Badger - Photo taken on 28th December 2014 Badger was rescued on the Scilly Isles, but now a second black seal has been rescued from Wherrytown, underweight youngster with minor flipper and nose wounds.

"For these two pups to be unrelated, after we´ve not seen one in nearly 60 years, seems too huge a coincidence," said animal care team leader Tamara Cooper.

A DNA comparison is now planned to see if they are siblings, which could mean their unusual skin pigment is inherited from just one parent.
"If they are not necessarily brothers, but are quite closely related, that would suggest that the mutation is already spreading and we could see bigger and bigger numbers of black seals in the future," said Tamara.

The dark skin colour is a result of an excess of a polymer called "melanin" in the pigmentation. A dark or "melanistic" strain of grey seals has long been present in the Scottish population, but occurrences elsewhere have been extremely rare until now.
Badger - Photo taken on 28th May 2015

Press Release issued by the Cornish Seal Sanctuary
For more details, please contact Georgina Shannon on 01326 221361
Issue Date: 22nd March 2016