[The Hunstanton SEA LIFE Sanctuary]

Seal influx prompts appeal by Sanctuary

Human interference is suspected as the probable reason why three seal pups had to be taken into care at Hunstanton SEA LIFE Sanctuary in the space of four days.

All three pups had seemingly lost touch with their mother, which is generally a result of mum being frightened off by humans.

The sudden influx has prompted the Sanctuary to issue an appeal to people living on or visiting the Norfolk coast to keep well clear if they spot a seal pup hauled out on the edge of the tide.

″In all three of these cases, the people who rescued or found the pups appear to have acted very responsibly...only taking action once it was very clear the pups had been abandoned,″ said seal care curator Kieran Copeland.

″Our suspicion is that other humans had been along before them, and without necessarily meaning any harm frightened the mother seal off simply by approaching the pup too close.″

A family on a day out at Holme Beach came across the first of the pups, a male subsequently christened Crouch after the England soccer player.

Crouch was only about five days old, but was in very good health.

A day later he was joined in the Sanctuary´s indoor hospital by a roughly seven-day-old female Ronaldo, whose rescue was a bit more dramatic.

A couple out in a tiny boat watched her being repeatedly rejected by a nearby group of adult seals for a whole day before somehow luring her into their boat, taking her back to harbour at Sutton Bridge and alerting the coastguard...who in turn called the Sanctuary.

The third arrival, two days after Ronaldo, was another male ´Beckham´ who was spotted on Heacham Beach, again with no sign of any adult seal in attendance.

″Luckily all three pups were in good shape and we´ve already weaned them from tube-fed milk onto fish,″ said Kieran, ″so the chances are that all three will be successfully returned to the wild in a few months time.″

″This is clearly just the beginning, however, so we´re keen to warn as many people as we can to avoid getting too close too soon, to prevent pups ending up here unnecessarily.″

Kieran´s advice to anyone spotting a seemingly abandoned pup is to watch from as far away as possible and try and keep other people, and especially dogs, from approaching for at least two hours.

If, after that length of time, there is still no sign of mum, they should telephone the Sanctuary on 01485 533576.

Crouch, Ronaldo and Beckham, while faring well, need to grow to about 40 kilos in weight before they can survive in the wild.

They currently all weigh under 10 kilos...so it is unlikely they´ll be going home quite as quickly as their footballing namesakes did from Germany!

For more details contact: Nigel Croasdale on 01485 533576.

Press Release date: 18th July 2006

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Hunstanton SEA LIFE Sanctuary / hunstanton@sealsanctuary.co.uk