Two grey seal pups released back into wild after RSPCA rehabilitation

Two grey seal pups have been given a new start for 2021 after being returned to the wild following months of RSPCA rehabilitation.

They had been rescued separately from beaches in Abereiddy, Pembrokeshire, and Trevone, Cornwall, after both being found underweight, injured and in distress.

The pair - nicknamed BB8 and Luke Skywalker - were released at Port Eynon beach on the Gower Peninsula as the sun rose on 3 January.

RSPCA animal rescue officer Ellie West, who helped release the seals, said: "This was such a lovely release - to see them both enter the sea happily where they belong with the sun rising in the distance was just glorious.

"It was a lovely way to start the new year."

This pup was rescued from Abereiddy, Pembrokeshire, in October last year. Credit: RSPCA Cymru

The seals were transferred to the Welsh coast from an RSPCA centre in Hastings and spent the night at the charity's seal unit at Llys Nini.

Ellie had been involved in the initial care of the seal rescued from Abereiddy Beach, named BB8, back in October.

"He was a weaned pup that had pretty much moulted out all his baby white lanugo coat, so he was fully weaned, but he was found quite underweight, lethargic and had the snotty face of a sickly pup,” she said.

BB8 also had a lump on his neck, which was removed under anaesthetic by the team in Hastings.

The second seal, Luke Skywalker, came into RSPCA care in November and weighed just 16.3kg. He had suffered a few small wounds and was wheezy, with centre staff treating him for lungworm and administering antibiotics.

When Luke left the centre he weighed a healthy 40kg. 

Before release, the seals were given identification tags in their hind flippers for ID purposes. The RSPCA said it often receives good feedback from sightings, and scientific results reveal that seals that go on from rehabilitation survive in the wild.

The charity advises that members of the public who spot a seal that is potentially in trouble to observe it from a distance and do not approach it.

The seals were released at sunrise. Credit: RSPCA Cymru

What to do if you spot a seal in need:

  • Do not try and return the seal to water yourself, as you may put yourselves and the seal at risk by doing this

  • Keep dogs away from any seal and keep them on leads when on beaches with seal colonies

  • Seal mothers leave their pups early on, so if a pup is alone but appears healthy, first monitor it for 24 hours

  • Call the RSPCA if the mother does not return within 24 hours, the pup is on a busy public beach, or if it appears sick or injured

  • An unhealthy seal pup looks thin, but not bony, with a visible neck, like a dog