Seal spotted in wild months after release

Researchers on the island of Skomer, Wales, recently came across a photo of a tagged seal in their photo-identification catalogue that has been recognised as a pup originally rescued in Cornwall.

Grey seal pup ‘Wombat’ was rescued by BDMLR Medics on 25 November 2018 at New Polzeath, Cornwall, and taken for rehabilitation at RSPCA West Hatch Wildlife Hospital near Taunton for rehabilitation due to various injuries as well as being quite underweight. She progressed well in their care and was released back to the wild in North Devon on 13 February 2019.

While reviewing last year’s seal survey photos recently, researchers on Skomer spotted a tagged seal in one of their images, and were able to read the number on the tag. After a little detective work it was discovered that it was Wombat, looking very fit and healthy! Grey seals in South West England are well known to travel regularly from here to Wales, Ireland and France, and last year the first ever link was made between Cornwall and the Isle of Man through photo-identification research and collaboration.

It is always really useful to get this kind of feedback on animals that have been rescued and rehabilitated, and with more researchers and people out on the coast with better camera equipment it is becoming increasingly common to hear about tagged seals being spotted. If anyone happens to get photos of tagged seals they are welcome to pass them on to us and we can try to find out which seal it is from the colour and number on the tag.

Thank you to Rhian and Ellie for the information.

Photo credit: Sylwia Zbijewska and Nathan Wilkie.