Cornwall LivingIssue #75

A diamond achievement

Celebrating 60 years of seal rescue, The Cornish Seal Sanctuary continues to rescue and rehabilitate seals from around Cornwall.

When exploring the coves and beaches of Cornwall, it’s always an utter delight to encounter the dog-like features and inquisitive globe eyes of our native grey seal. Usually a rare occurrence, the seals will occasionally pop up in the water next to you to satisfy their boundless curiosity. Sadly, hundreds of seals get injured every year, however those that wash up on Cornwall’s coast have more chance than many, thanks to The Cornish Seal Sanctuary.

“The Seal Sanctuary is celebrating its diamond anniversary and since 1958 it has grown to become a pioneer in seal care”

The Seal Sanctuary’s beginning can be traced back to 1958 when a young seal pup was washed up on a beach at St Agnes. Ken Jones and his wife, Mary, lived near the beach and upon discovering the injured seal, Ken took it to his home to care for it. Little did the family know that this was to change their lives, and the lives of many seals, forever.

The Jones family began to receive calls about seals that needed help, so they set up a rescue centre from their home in St Agnes. News of their work spread and every year, they received more and more calls about injured seals.

The family realised they were going to need more than the single pool at St Agnes, so set out to find a site to build a larger, permanent rescue centre. This was to become the Seal Sanctuary we know today, set aside the Helford estuary in Gweek. The family worked tirelessly to complete the sanctuary and prepare it to accommodate both the resident animals and rescued seals. Work was finally completed and the sanctuary opened at its new location in 1975.

Today, alongside the specially designed hospital, the sanctuary has nursery, rehabilitation and convalescence pools. The Seal Sanctuary has rescued many seals and has been able to successfully release most back into the wild once they have recovered. Unfortunately, there are some whose injuries are too severe or who suffer from ongoing health problems and would not be able to survive back in the wild. These individuals are provided a safe and permanent home in the resident pools. There are also enclosures for a variety of other animals including otters, penguins, sheep, ponies and goats.

In 2018 the sanctuary took its next step and moved over to the charity The Sea Life Trust, who have helped the sanctuary continue its vital work.

This year the Seal Sanctuary is celebrating its diamond anniversary and since 1958 it has grown to become a pioneer in seal care.

The Animal Care Team dedicate their lives to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of seal pups from around Cornwall’s coastline. Each season, they rehabilitate over 60 casualties of the sea. This involves 24 hour care; from night feeds to expert medical assistance, each pup has individual needs and the team work around the clock to ensure every pup is given the best possible chance to be released back to where they belong.

This season the sanctuary has had some real superstar pups that have had to overcome major injuries. Ted is one of those pups. He was rescued on 16th December from the north coast of Cornwall. It was apparent that Ted had been knocked about by strong waves after a storm. He was malnourished after being separated from his mum; he had a fever, a respiratory infection, multiple puncture wounds to his flippers, ulcers on both his eyes and a worm infestation. He was only a few weeks old and was exhausted, and the team wasn’t even sure if he was going to make it. However, after weeks of care, he was successfully released on 26th March.

All in all it cost over £2,000 to get Ted well again. This year the Seal Sanctuary has helped to rescue, rehabilitate and release 82 pups, all with their own individual stories just like Ted’s and it’s thanks to the Animal Care Team and the sanctuary’s guests that make this vital work possible. So, make sure to join the Seal Sanctuary this summer to celebrate its Diamond Anniversary and see the recovering pups get back on their flippers once again.


Discover More

From 21st July until 2nd September, you can swim through history and learn all about the sanctuary’s origins, from humble beginnings in 1958 to the record year of seal rescue today.

Take part in a guided historic tour where you can learn about how seal rescue has changed, or take a moment in the Seal Cinema where you can sit back and enjoy a visual journey through the last 60 years. There are also daily talks and feeds as well as fun and
games for all the family!

"The Seal Sanctuary is celebrating its diamond anniversary and since 1958 it has grown to become a pioneer in seal care"