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Go back to our general advice page for how to help injured wildlife


If you find a seal on a beach, watch it from a distance. Do not approach the animal. Seals regularly haul out on our coasts – it is part of their normal behaviour and, in fact, they spend more time out of the water digesting their food and resting than in it. Therefore, finding a seal on the beach does not mean there is necessarily a problem so do not chase it into the sea as this may stop it from doing what it needs to do – rest. A healthy seal should be left alone.

Do not approach a seal or allow children or dogs near it. Seals are wild animals and although they look cute, they can defend themselves aggressively if they need to. 

After stormy weather and/or high tides, seals will haul out on beaches to rest and regain their strength. Many do not need first aid, but the BDMLR Rescue will always try to find someone to check them out just in case. 

However, if there is a problem, there are a number of things you may see. 

  • Abandoned – If you see a seal with a white long haired coat in the Autumn/Winter or see a small seal (less than a meter in length), alone between June and August, then it is probably still suckling from its mother. Check to see if there is any sign of an adult seal. 
  • Thin – signs of malnutrition may include, visible ribs, hips, and neck, and possibly rather baggy wrinkled skin.
  • Sick – signs of ill health include: coughing, sneezing or noisy, rapid breathing and possibly thick mucous coming from the nose, wounds or swellings (particularly on flippers), cloudy eyes or thick mucous around them, or maybe one eye kept closed most of the time. A seal not showing any response to any disturbance going on around it (although remember they could be sound asleep) could also be a sign of ill health.
  • Entanglement – seals are susceptible to being entangled in fishing gear and other debris. Monofilament lines and nets are hard to see, but could be caught around the neck flippers or body. Sometimes seals can have nasty wounds due to fishing gear and marine debris cutting into their bodies.

If you see a seal that may be abandoned, thin, ill or injured, then call for advice and assistance: BDMLR Rescue Hotline: 01825 765546 (24 hr) or RSPCA hotline (England and Wales) 0300 1234 999.

You will receive further advice over the phone.

Wildlife Rescue information and contact details

Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary
Address: Hunstanton, Norfolk PE36 5BH    
Telephone number: 01485 533576  
Website: https://helpwildlife.co.uk  

Marine and Wildlife Rescue 
Address: Marine House, Marine Park, Gapton Hall Road, Great Yarmouth NR31 0NB   
Telephone for assistance: 01692 650338  
Website: https://marineandwildliferescue.org.uk/

Seal & Bird Rescue Trust 
Address: The Barns, Mill Common Rd, Ridlington, North Walsham NR28 9TY  
Phone: 01692 650338  
Website: https://marineandwildliferescue.org.uk/ 

Note: Inclusion in our directory is NOT an endorsement. You are strongly advised to check the suitability of any organisation you contact to help with your wildlife casualty