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Impact of COVID-19 on Seal Rescues and Rehabilitation

The current restrictions due to the coronavirus have a significant impact on many businesses, including zoos, wildlife parks and wildlife rescue centres. They had to close their doors to the public, meaning their revenue stopped while the work and costs continued. One of the organisations affected through this, is the Natureland Seal Sanctuary in Skegness.

Natureland Seal Sanctuary specialises in rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing seal pups back into their natural habitat. The two native seal subspecies are the main focus of their hospital. although there have been some non-seal patients in the past, including porpoises and a walrus. Furthermore, they have helped beached whales returning to the sea. 
The grey seal and the harbour seal, also called common seal are the two native seal subspecies in the UK. Grey seals have one of England’s largest breeding colonies at Donna Nook, and The Wash is one of the stronghold areas for the harbour seals.

The main problems for both subspecies are when pups don’t wean off properly, meaning they are found on beaches; being exhausted and starved. Other issues include the occasional eye problem and injuries through discarded netting, frisbee rings or other waste like plastic bags.

The treatment as well as the duration of a seal staying at the sanctuary varies, depending on the problem the seals come in with. However, on average, seals stay for about 2-3 months before being able to be released back to the sea. Natureland Seal Sanctuary has released almost 900 seals since John Yeadon established the seal hospital back in 1965.

The costs to treat and rehabilitate a seal is on average £2,000, though this depends again on the issues the seals have when being brought into the sanctuary. This amount includes expenditure for treatment, medicine, medical equipment, and food. It does not include any costs for the maintenance of the hospital and rehabilitation facilities or any administration costs.

Natureland Seal Sanctuary finances all of the costs through the visitor entrance fees, donations as well as the adoption and Wishlist schemes. Due to the COVID-19 crisis the seal sanctuary had to close its doors to the public for the first time in 55 years; and this at the busiest time of the year.

The main revenue comes from visitors during the time from March until October. This does not only cover the peak time during the harbour seal pupping season in June/July, but also when the second peak occurs during the grey seal pupping season in November/December.

The Natureland Seal Sanctuary is extremely grateful for the support, they have received from the public. However, to ensure the continuation of their work and to be able to help all harbour seal pups in need over the coming months, the team hopes to be able to open their doors to the public again soon.

Visiting Natureland Seal Sanctuary is a great day out for the entire family. There are not only seals to see, but also penguins, meerkats, and much more. Why not stop by at the Natureland Seal Sanctuary once it will re-open (hopefully soon).

Natureland Seal Sanctuary Skegness, North Parade, Skegness, Lincolnshire, PE25 1DBTel: 01754 764 345



Facebook – www.facebook.com/natureland/

Photo courtesy of Barbara Meyer, wildlife photographer and speaker www.bigcatphotography.co.uk

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