1. ITV Report

Rescued seal pups returned to the sea

This young pup is on its way to freedom after a winter being looked after by the Cornish Seal Sanctuary. Credit: ITV News West Country

A group of injured or abandoned young grey seals have been released into the wild after being cared for by the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek.

Usually as soon as a pup has reached 40kg and has received a clean bill of health they are then returned to the sea.

It was quite an operation to transfer the pups from the charity's home. Their pool was drained and each pup had to be herded into a cage and then moved to a trailer which was then driven onto Porthtowan Beach to be safely released.

On this occasion setting the youngsters free didn't go quite according to plan as an overly keen pup tumbled down the ramp.

Sometimes they're very quick, sometimes they're very slow but that's the first time I've seen one tumble down it - it happens!

– Alex Watt, Site Manager, Cornish Seal Sanctuary
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There are a variety of reasons as to why grey seal pups need to be rescued, from malnutrition to being separated from their mum at just a few days old.

Usually the Cornish Seal Sanctuary rescues 60-70 pups a year. This year it had to take in 83 during the season, which runs from September to March. It puts the rise down to this winter's storms, which were particularly severe.

Usual number of rescued seal pups
Number of seal pups rescued 2017-2018

Sadly there are an increasing number of injuries caused by the seals getting caught up in plastic or fishing equipment.

We do a lot of beach cleans and the amount of plastic we pick up is immense and the seals suffer for it. But yes, don't use plastic - if you do, take it home with you.

– Alex Watt
So long and thanks for all the fish - the seal pups head back to the sea. Credit: ITV News West Country