Rescue centre full of orphan seals

Seal pup at the East Winch Wildlife Centre in Norfolk. Photo:

A rescue centre has taken in more than 100 seal pups orphaned by the recent floods.

The East Winch Wildlife Centre in Norfolk is at full capacity after taking in the young pups, many less than three weeks old, which were washed up after a tidal surge hit the east coast.

Each pup is expected to require up to five months' rehabilitation after being separated from its mother.

One of the seal pups at the East Winch Wildlife Centre in Norfolk.

"We have never had a seal rescue project on a scale as big as this before.

"If it wasn't for us, these seal pups would starve to death. But we really need the public's help because without their donations we simply couldn't do what we do.

"This couldn't have happened at a worse time for the seals.

"We are at the height of the grey seal pupping season, which means most of these poor seals should still be dependent on their mother's milk."

– Alison Charles, Centre manager

Seal colonies are a common sight along the Norfolk coast as they come ashore to breed between November and January.

There had been fears that hundreds of seals would be killed when the highest tides on record hit the coast last Thursday and Friday.

Pups cannot swim or survive without their mother's milk until they have shed their distinctive white fur.

Seal pups at the East Winch Wildlife Centre in Norfolk.

At one breeding ground in Horsey, volunteers counted 440 pups on the beach before the surge and only 177 after it hit.

But National Trust rangers at Blakeney Point, one of the largest colonies with about 1,000 seals and pups, said they had accounted for the vast majority of the seals.

"It would appear that the majority of seals and pups were able to reach higher ground on the sand dunes and escape the worst of the surge," a spokesman said.

The RSPCA has launched a crisis appeal to help care for the orphaned seals. The charity said it costs £22 a week to feed each seal. The eventual aim is to returning the animals to the wild.