Every summer, numerous strandings of baby seals are deplored on the French coasts. Victims of the loss of their mother, fishing or the unconsciousness of certain tourists, these animals are fragile. Animal protection associations are working to rescue them.
Thor is only a month old and once got caught in a fishing net. This baby seal, injured by a hook in the chest, was rescued off a beach in Cabourg, Calvados, in mid-August 2021.
He is one of the many calves of the sea (port seal, editor’s note) victims of human activity, between uncontrolled fishing and the unconsciousness of some tourists.
Every summer, animal protection associations multiply alerts to preserve these animals. Members of the Chêne association, which has a support center in Allouville-Bellfosse (76), are particularly popular during the summer. It is in their hands that Thor continues the care: ” He arrived very weak and emaciatedevokes Lisa Lapierre, a member of the association. The first steps were well done. He’s already on the mend, showing himself a little more excited. ! »
Next to Thor, 10 baby seals are currently undergoing treatment at the Center. some arrived just a few days old “, others ” still had the umbilical cord ” and ” were stuck alone without the mother “. Their names are Kilimanjaro, Piton, Milos, Flores, Irazu, Chopine, Misti, Ebeko, Curtis… Their commonalities: the name of a volcano… and the inability to survive without help.” At this age, they are unable to fend for themselves.says Lisa. Fortunately, volunteers trained in seal care take care of them during the months of recovery.. »
From reception to release, a “rigid protocol”
For their sake, the protocol is strict. With each arrival, they are first placed in a room called a quarantine seal with heat lamps “. The mammals are then fed fish porridge with rehydration agent ” for about a month, the goal being “ that they become independent “.
The animals must then learn to eat the whole fish. Come then ” the moment of passage in the outdoor swimming pool where they start swimming and picking up their food on their own. each seal is played on the web to track your progress once released into the wild. Reception, infrastructure, food and release: care for a seal costs around 2,500 euros.
a fragile mammal
It must be remembered that a seal is not devoid of fragility, far from it. In the Baie de Somme, where there are 739 seals out of the 1040 present on the coast of Hauts-de-France, there are many calls not to approach them. Selfies, disturbances or roaming of off-leash dogs, unconsciousness can seriously disturb these aquatic animals. ” From the moment the seal lifts its head and looks at you, it is already in a state of worry.explains in France Info Pierre Bourgeon, head of the operations department of the marine natural park of the estuaries of Picardy and the Sea of Opal. They shouldn’t be bothered because puppies need their mother to feed and they gain 1.5 to 2 pounds a day. It is very important, they are in the growth phase and if the mother notices the presence of a human, she will not come to feed her baby. They also need sleep, it’s a physiological need, like us. Imagine being disturbed three times a night! If they enter the water every time to escape, they waste energy unnecessarily.. »
What to do (or not to do) if you encounter a baby seal
Disturbing a seal is a 4th class offense punishable by a fine of €135 and up to €750. In case of encounter, it is advisable to observe from afar and keep your distance, even if the mother is not visible. On the other hand, if an animal is stranded, it is necessary to contact the competent authorities (Association Chêne, Observatório Pelagis, LPA, etc.)
Meanwhile, Thor and others continue their recovery and learning: ” They are doing well, even if some are more Tanguy than others.smiles Lisa Lapierre. They still need time to understand that it is now up to them to take care of themselves! »