Manx waters are home to several hundred seals and we have two species, the Atlantic Grey seal and the Harbour or Common seal.
However, the Common seal is not a common species to our shores with the majority of individuals seen in Manx waters being Grey seals. It is at this time of year that the Grey seals gather together to mate and give birth to their pups. They are a protected species under the Wildlife Act 1990 and should not be disturbed in any way, and so it is important to keep your distance. This especially applies to dogs that must be kept on leads at all times in the vicinity of seals.
Make sure you stop anyone else disturbing or approaching the seal as this could affect the mother-pup bond and the pup may be abandoned if approached too closely. Use binoculars when watching them and that way you get a great view without stressing the animals. Sadly, recent posts on social media are showing that people are approaching pups to take photographs – some people are even taking ‘selfies’ with the seals.
What to do if you see a lone baby seal
First don’t immediately worry. Often the mother will be in the water not far from her pup but still keeping a watchful eye on it. It is likely she won’t come ashore and she may remain in the water for some time. Don’t be alarmed if the mother doesn’t come back for several hours - this is quite normal, and she may be out feeding. If you are concerned keep a watchful eye on the pup for several hours (at least one turn of the tide) and stop anyone else disturbing or approaching the seal too. If the mother does not return after a considerable length of time then it may be a case of calling the ManxSPCA, but make sure you yourself aren’t the reason for the mother not returning.
Please do not try to rescue the seal pup yourself as, although they look cute, they can be highly aggressive and could give you a nasty bite which could quickly become infected. Please leave the rescue to the professionals, so if you spot an injured or lone seal pup which hasn’t been tended to by its mother for several hours please contact the ManxSPCA on 851672 and leave a message if necessary. If you find a dead seal or any other dead marine mammal such as a dolphin or porpoise please report it to the Manx Wildlife Trust on 844432.