If you have found a seal on land, it may not be in distress. Seals regularly haul out at low tide to rest and seal pups are often left on land while adult females go fishing. So unless the animal is clearly in distress or it has been observed over a long period of time and appears to be abandoned and malnourished, it may be displaying very natural behaviour by being on land.
Some issues which can cause seals problems are disease, parasitic infection, malnourishment, predation, injury, boat/propeller collision and entanglement in fishing gear.
If you are concerned about a seal on land:
Phone your local marine mammal rescue team for advice and assistance. (British Divers Marine Life Rescue in the UK)
Take note of the species (if known), size, colour, location and any signs of injury.
If possible, take photographs and send them to the rescue team. Remember something for scale in a photograph is useful.
Do not approach the seal too closely. Maintain a safe distance; seals can bite and can give you a very serious infected wound.
Do not touch a seal pup without consent from a professional; you may cause the pup to be abandoned by its mother.
Do not scare the seal into entering the water; if the seal is to be helped it must be accessible.
Keep other members of the public and dogs at a safe distance to keep distress levels low.
Wait patiently for assistance to arrive but always be aware of the incoming tide! Your safety comes first!
Marine mammal rescue specialists shall come as quickly as they can to assess the animal and offer it the best chance for recovery and survival. There are rehabilitation centres which specialise in caring for unwell and injured seals and they shall ensure the animal is returned to its rightful home as soon as it is healthy and strong enough to do so.
Make sure you have a number for your local marine mammal rescue team stored in your phone, if in doubt call the Coastguard or local authorities.
In the United Kingdom:
BDMLR hotline: 01825 765546 (office hours) or 07787 433412 (out of hours)
RSPCA hotline (England & Wales): 0300 1234 999
SSPCA hotline (Scotland): 03000 999 999
By Amy Ferguson
Image Source: BDMLR