Two rehabilitated common seals released back into wild

 8th Dec 2016

Releasing the seals © Julie Hatcher

Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) and the RSPCA have released two common seals back into the sea in Poole Harbour, after having been cared for by the team at the RSPCA West Hatch Wildlife Centre in Taunton since they arrived on August 18th 2016.  DWT hopes to monitor them through the Dorset Seal project, using its ‘seal cam’.

Both the seals have been tagged before their release, so their survival can be monitored in the wild.  Since the release 2 weeks ago, DWT has received reports of sightings of one of the seals.

One seal was found in Jersey at Archirondel Beach.  It weighed around 11kg on admission and 40kg on release.  It was rescued and taken to a vets there before being transferred.  The seal has been orphaned and had received some bumps and bashes, but quickly made good progress.

The other seal was found at Chapman’s Pool, near Swanage and weighed just 8.7kg but was released weighing 36kg.  It had a badly infected mouth and some other minor injuries.  The seal was very sickly, and so thin its bones were visible.

Checked and ready to go!

Bel Derring, Centre Manager at the RSPCA’s West Hatch Wildlife centre said, “At first they were eating fish soup with help from the staff at the Centre before feeding themselves fish in our specialist rehabilitation pools. Both seals passed their final vet checks with flying colours, were tagged and we released them on the Dorset coast rather than flying one back to Jersey.  Seals are not natural air travellers so it is healthier and less stressful for them to be released at the nearest suitable coastline habitat.  We know from previous experience that they are able to return to familiar waters on their own and felt it would be good for these two inexperienced juveniles to be released together.  A big thank you to DWT for finding such a fantastic release site.”

DWT worked with the RSPCA to find a release site, and will monitor the seals’ progress.

A successful release

DWT’s Marine Awareness Officer, Julie Hatcher said, “We now have the tag details so we can record the seals from sightings as part of our Dorset Seal Project.  We’ve also set up a ‘seal cam’ so we’re hoping to spot them on there.  It was such a special moment when the two seal pups went into the water together, to explore their new home. I would love it if they stay around so we can monitor their progress, although they might just decide to move further along the coast. We are so lucky to have these beautiful, intelligent creatures sharing our seas.”

Please report any seal sightings in Dorset

DWT is appealing to members of the public to report any Dorset seal sightings, with photographs if possible.  DWT stresses the importance of not disturbing seals by trying to get too close. 

Please send details of sightings to or via DWT facebook/dorsetwildlife or Twitter @dorsetwildlife



Notes to Editor

*The Fine Foundation Marine Centre, Kimmeridge, Wareham, BH20 5PF.  Phone 01929 481044 for more information.

For more information please contact Sally Welbourn at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.

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Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living.  Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 26,500 members and over 40 nature reserves.  Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve.  DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.


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