First common seal pup arrives at Norfolk RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre

14:01 13 June 2014

A common seal pup.

A common seal pup.

Archant

Staff at the RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre in Norfolk are gearing up for another busy summer – marked by the arrival of their first common seal pup.

June is usually the start of the common seal season – with large numbers of pups being born along the coast in the coming days and weeks.

During the season, the staff find they can deal with high numbers of sick and injured pups that require care at the centre which specialises in looking after seals.

The first common seal pup came in on the evening of Tuesday 10 June after being picked up by staff from the Sea Life Sanctuary at North Beach in Heacham.

The youngster, nicknamed Kwacha, is less than two-weeks old and still had her umbilical cord attached.

She weighed 8.1kg, whereby the normal weight for a newborn pup should be about 10kg.

She is very thin and staff are doing all they can to save her and are currently rehydrating her by giving her liquidised mackerel (fish soup) every three hours by stomach tube.

Alison Charles, centre manager, said: “Usually the two seal species come at different times of the year. Common seals have their pups in the summer and grey seals pup in the winter, meaning the centre usually has a short respite period between the two pupping seasons.

“However this year has been unprecedented as we were caring for an additional 100 pups since December who were washed up along the shore following violent storms.

“It was one of the biggest rescue projects the charity has ever seen and we still have 11 of those pups in our care, but hope they will be released back to the wild soon.

“But now it is time for the common seal pups, and the arrival of Kwacha marks the start of it. She is very small and weak, but we are doing all we can to help her pull through.

“Common seals are different to the greys in the fact that they can be in the water with their mum an hour after being born – so if people do see them on the beach please do not immediately assume they are abandoned and are orphans.

“We would urge people to watch from a distance as the chances are mum is nearby, but just in the water. If you feel she has not returned after a while or the pup is injured – please do not approach the pup, but instead call the RSPCA. We also want to remind people to never approach seal pups and to always have your dogs on leads if you see them.”

This year’s batch of rescue seals will also be trying a new mackerel fish soup recipe rather than the traditional herring fish soup.

This is because during the busy Christmas period staff found that the pups gained more weight being stomach-tubed with mackerel soup rather than the herring.

It costs about £21 to feed a seal for a week at the centre – and if you would like to sponsor a seal please call 0300 123 0709 or e-mail eastwinch@rspca.org.uk

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