by Kira Walton
Meet Buttons – this adorable looking seal pup from County Mayo is the first baby seal we adopted as part of our sponsorship of Seal Rescue Ireland.
Buttons is also special because he is one of the first seal pups to be rescued and taken to the newly relocated seal sanctuary at Courtown County Wexford, the new base of Seal Rescue Ireland. Recently, this incredible organisation faced disaster when its much valued seal sanctuary at Dingle, Co. Kerry was destroyed by Storm Darwin in February. A new location had to be found urgently and the sanctuary has now reopened at its new location, in ‘the sunny south-east’ where the young seals can be looked after until they are ready to be released back into the wild.
No home for the sanctuary
The rescue centre, which relies entirely on volunteers, receives approximately 600 phone calls a year reporting mainly Harbour and Grey seals that might need rescuing from around the entire coast of Ireland. Usually, only 10% of these are actually sick, injured or abandoned and need rescuing. The pups may have lost their way due to being abandoned by their mothers, have got caught up in fishing nets, may be starving or ill or may have even been bitten by dogs. The aim is to rehabilitate the pups back to full health and then return them to the wild when they are fit and ready.
What to do if you find an abandoned seal
Seals are a protected species under Irish and EU law and should not be touched or encouraged to go back in to the water as it is quite normal for them to rest on land. They may look so cute and cuddly, but they are wild animals and can bite when they feel threatened and need to be handled by experts. The volunteer team at the sanctuary care for the seals, treating them for illness, feeding them and making sure they have clean water until they are healthy and strong enough to be released back in to the sea.
Running the Seal Sanctuary
The centre costs approximately 100K euros a year to run. Our donations will go towards the daily care of the seal pups including providing food and fish to eat, clean water, vet services and medicine.
Speaking of the new partnership with VOYA, Ally McMillan from Seal Rescue Ireland, says:
“We are extremely appreciative of VOYA and their generosity and support by sponsoring us and some of the seals in our care to assist in their rehabilitation costs. VOYA has been closely connected with us for years now with Neil Walton of VOYA in Co. Sligo rescuing and transporting countless distressed seal pups for us. We are delighted to be supported by and working with a wonderful organisation that has such passion about the ocean and the creatures within it. Thank you.”
“VOYA and the team here in Sligo are delighted to be working closely with Ally and Ciaran at Seal Rescue Ireland. Working with marine ingredients means the ocean plays a very central role in what we do, so we felt it was important to sponsor and support a company with that same synergy. The time, effort and strength Ally and her volunteers invest into looking after the rescued seals and various marine life is tremendous and we’re delighted to be working with them”, Kira Walton.