Seal Pup Rehabilitation
We have been rehabilitating harbour (common) seal pups since 1996. We feed them a very high fat milk formula, similar to real seal mother’s milk. This helps them to gain about one kilo every three days and means they are able to go back to the wild when they are about six weeks old. We don’t feed our pups dead fish because we don’t want them to develop bad feeding habits which might tempt them into fishermen’s nets when back in the wild.
Since 1996 we have successfully rehabilitated 23 pups by this method and released the first ten with radio-tags fixed to the top of the head, enabling us to follow their progress. The tags emit a ‘beep’ – at a different frequency for each pup. We drive up and down the coast with a manual receiver, listening for the signal. The tag falls off the head after 3 or 4 months, and doesn’t seem to cause the pup any harm. We also put a paint mark on the pup’s fur. More recently, since we stopped radio-tracking pups, we put a small ID disc on to the top of the head bearing the pup’s name and our email address. The disc probably lasts a year until the pup moults the following August. If the pup should strand, we should be able to be informed quickly.