WHEN YOU MEET A SEAL
The Baltic Sea is a natural environment for various seal species. At the end of the 19th century, over 100,000 seals occupied the entire Baltic area. Ice covering a large part of the Baltic Sea, on which seals gave birth and raised their young, was their ally. As the climate was changing, seals gradually retreated to the North. Nowadays they breed on uninhabited, rocky islands of Sweden, Finland and Estonia.
Today, more than 30,000 of grey seals live in the entire Baltic Sea – they represent the largest species of seals, which is still considered as endangered. Grey seals are most common on Polish beaches. There are also ringed seals (over 8,000) in the Baltic, living mainly in the Gulf of Bothnia, and harbour seals (only about 5,000) which inhabit the southern coast of Sweden.
From time to time seals need to get out of water. They usually haul out on land to rest after a strenuous hike or fishing, during moulting and pupping seasons, and also when they get sick. They should not be scared away nor disturbed. These mammals have become frequent guests on the Polish coast. Few guides are given below which should be strictly obeyed (for the sake of both, you and the seals) if you encounter a seal.
If you encounter a seal, remember:
- Do not come too close! A seals is a wild animal which can bite severely! Do not take it away from the beach! If it has white fur, its mother may swim nearby. And she will only come back when she feels safe!
- Do not chase a seal into the water! Seals are animals which need to live on land as well. That is where they rest, dry their fur, give birth and raise their offspring.
- Do not touch or try to catch a seal! Take a good look. If the seal is emaciated, injured or sick (breathing heavily, coughing, has a runny nose), then it will need your help – inform the Marine Station of the University of Gdansk in Hel (contact numbers given below).
- Try to ensure that the seal is calm and safe until the employees of the Marine Station arrive. Do not allow people and animals get close to it. Try to make a fence around with a string, tape or sticks, putting them in the sand, a few meters from the place where it lies.
- When the employees of the Marine Station arrive, they will examine the seal and assess its health condition. If necessary, they will take it in to the seal centre for further check-up and rehabilitation. After the completed treatment, the seal will be set free.
Have you seen a seal on the beach?
Be sure to call the Marine Station in Hel:
+48 58 675 08 36 or +48 601 88 99 40