There are many circumstances in which a seal can get into trouble. Sometimes it becomes necessary for us to help them. Generally, we get three categories of seals at the SRRC: babies, sick seals, and wounded seals.
Baby seals: These seal pups have lost their mother. Common seals are usually born around June 21st, the summer solstice. Grey seals have their young in the winter, usually in December and January. Common seals only nurse their young for four weeks. As seal pups are completely dependent on their mothers in the first weeks of their lives, mother seals look after their pups very carefully. However, through storm or interruption, the animals may panic, causing all animals to flee in different directions. Strong currents may cause mother and young to be separated. In vain, the mother seal often searches for her young for days. The lost pups are not sick. However, they are unable to take care of themselves.
Sick seals: Because their habitat is polluted, seals" immune systems often do not work properly. Seals can even become weakened by common "seal-pup diseases". When these seals are brought in to the centre, they often recover quickly. However, they would not have survived without help. An added advantage is that they have survived their common "seal-pup diseases", which will never return.
It is clear that humans are usually the cause of seals" distress. They dump chemicals, throw entangled sea-fishing tackle overboard, or frighten nursing mothers. The story repeats itself over and over: Human activities endanger these animals. We, at the SRRC, think it goes without saying that we should take responsibility for the animals that wash ashore, help them and set them free again afterwards in their natural habitat.
Wounded seals: Propellers, nets and carelessly discarded trash and fishing tackle pose big threats to seals. Every year, wounded animals are brought in with deep cuts, caused by being caught up in nets and pieces of rope. They often are traumatised, have fractures and deep wounds which are caused by ships" propellers. Increasingly, seals that have swallowed large fish hooks are brought in. If they are rescued in time, we can sometimes save them. Unfortunately, we usually find these hooks when we are doing autopsies on animals that have been found dead along the Dutch coast. These dead animals are always sent to Pieterburen for research.