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Rare seal pups to have DNA test to see if they are related

Could Badger (on the top) be related to Blackjack? Credit: Cornish Seal Sanctuary

Staff at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary are planning a DNA check of two rescued seal pups to see if they could be related.

The centre at Gweek took in a very rare all-black - known as melanistic - pup in December 2014. Christened Badger, that pup has become a permanent resident as he suffers from a thyroid condition and needs regular medication.

Read: Badger's story

Badger chilling out with a friend Credit: Cornish Seal Sanctuary

Badger was rescued on the Isles of Scilly, but now a second black seal has been rescued from Wherrytown, Penzance.

He was an underweight youngster with minor flipper and head wounds who has been named ‘Blackjack’, following the current naming theme of board and card games.

Blackjack enjoying life at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary Credit: ITV News

To have two in two years from relatively the same area - Penzance and the Isles of Scilly - it could be a bit more than coincidence and we're hoping that we might find out something really interesting from this. You never know - we might have reunited two relatives.

– Dan Jarvis, Animal Care Assistant, Cornish Seal Sanctuary

The dark fur colour comes from an excess of melanin in the pigmentation and is extremely rare in this part of the UK. The Sanctuary last saw a melanistic seal in November 2007, when a Pup named ‘Nessa’ was rescued from St Ives and released three months later.

If the DNA comparison proves they are related, it could mean their unusual skin pigment is inherited from one of their parents.

And if the two are siblings, then the centre is looking forward to reunite them - although they won't be together for long as Blackjack will be released back into the wild when he is big enough.