Grey Seals (World’s 1st Protected Species) are NOW breeding around the Irish coast.
Whitecoats (newborn pups) are born above the high water mark, and reared ashore for the 1st few weeks on world’s richest milk. They triple in weight, moult and leave the breeding beaches at about 3 weeks.
Pups are often alone for long periods, visited by nursing mothers and not necessarily orphans in need of rescue . During this period both pups and mothers are easily disturbed and orphans created by curious walkers and dogs. They should be allowed privacy and space.
If concerned for a pup, not obviously sick or injured, monitor from a distance for a couple of tidal cycles for visiting mother, just offshore and seek advice off Irish Seal Sanctuary, NPWS, Vets, SPCAs or experienced local seal handlers, before intervening . Do NOT handle or interfere.
Breeding beaches are increasingly under pressure from public at work and recreation and empathy with the wild residents is called for.
Every year a few “cute, appealing” seals are “rescued”………………. .by well meaning, misguided Seal-Snatchers……others are ORPHANED by simple disturbance of curious onlookers.
Seal watching is a pleasant and rewarding pastime and most exciting in breeding season. There will be enough orphans and casualties in need of help, without adding to them by disturbance…..and remember natural mothers rear stronger pups, if allowed to do their “thing”.
PLEASE DON’T CREATE ORPHANS.
There is a cluster of dead pups in Wicklow currently being examined…….and it might tragically be for reasons as simple as disturbance. People in Wicklow have been highly protective of resident seals and co-existed happily with them. Whatever the cause, it is an extra burden on wildlife and veterinary services and we help them best by vigilance, not intrusion.