Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre

RSPCA Seal sighting

The grey seal, named Admiral’s Ale, was identified by the tag in her flipper 

An orphaned seal that was rehabilitated by the RSPCA after being rescued from an island in the Irish Sea in 2016, has been seen again in North Wales - this time with her nine-day-old pup.

The seal, nicknamed Admiral’s Ale, came into the care of the RSPCA’s Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Nantwich in late December 2016 after being found as an injured orphan pup on Walney Island.

After receiving initial treatment and care, she was transferred across to finish her rehabilitation in deeper pools at the animal welfare charity’s East Winch Wildlife Centre in Norfolk, from where she was successfully released in early 2017, weighing 50 kilograms. 

On Sunday she was spotted with her newborn pup on a beach in North Wales and later identified by Kate Williams of the Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust - because of the orange tag visible in the webbing of her right flipper. 

Her pup was born on Friday 12 November and has been named Gwener.

Evangelos Achilleos, manager at East Winch Wildlife Centre, said the emotional sighting of the pair emphasises the impact of the RSPCA’s rehabilitation work. He said: "When orphan seal pups are admitted to us, the staff at our wildlife centres work relentlessly, feeding them from 8am to 11pm daily, which is extremely labour intensive. 

“Our dedicated and knowledgeable wildlife assistants, vets and volunteers work so hard to get animals fully fit and back to the wild for release where they’re meant to be. Five years on, and Admiral has thrived in nature and gone on to breed. Her and Gwener are the ultimate success story and the reason we all do what we do. 

“We’re so thankful that members of the public share images of the tags on the seals’ flippers, which allows us to map their whereabouts. It was heartwarming to see the pictures on the weekend, which were taken at a distance with a long lens; this is crucially important during pupping season when people should be admiring these wonderful animals from afar.” 

Kate Williams added: "Here at Cornwall Seal Group we identify seals using their fur pattern. The photographer realised from the furpattern that he had seen this female back in April. She had a tag which we couldn’t read at the time, but then he was able to get a clearer photo and with a bit of detective work, the RSPCA East Winch team was able to identify her."

At this time of year, grey seal cows (females) are very susceptible to disturbance when they are with their offspring on beaches. If they are disturbed they are likely to move away from their pup into the sea and may not return to feed it.

Ideally, lone seal pups looking fit and healthy should be monitored from a safe distance for 24 hours. If a seal pup is injured or in distress, the mother hasn’t returned after 24 hours, or is on a busy public beach, the RSPCA's emergency line should be contacted on 0300 1234 999.

It’s very normal for seals to come out onto beaches to rest, and they will go back into the sea when they are ready. It’s very important to keep your distance - do not try and move the animal back into the water. Seals can give a nasty bite, so please keep children, dogs and other animals away from them.

For more information about what to do if you’re concerned about a seal pup, please visit the RSPCA’s website.