Seal pups recuperating in Shetland wildlife sanctuary following stormy weather


An adorable young seal pup is safely recovering at a Shetland wildlife sanctuary after being found up a steep hill more than 600 meters away from the sea.

Luckily, a postie spotted the white coat seal pup in his rearview mirror while out on a round in North Nesting on Tuesday afternoon.

He pulled over and with the help of a local farmer managed to get the selkie in his van while he waited for the Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary to arrive.

Pete Bevington, who runs the sanctuary in Shetland alongside his wife Jan, said the pup was a young male, possibly around a week old, separated from his mother during the stormy weather.

He believes the “handsome” pup – now called Rylee – probably moved more inland to get away from the “raging seas”.

Although seal pups have been found quite far inland before, 600 meters up a steep hill still seemed unusual to Mr Bevington.

He said: “This pup had obviously become separated from its mum in the raging seas we’ve been having over the last week or two, and had managed to head inland to get away from the sea.

“It was very lucky to have been found because whether it would have survived the night or not we’ll never know.

“This little fellow must have put in a huge effort to climb such a steep incline to get to where he was in atrocious weather conditions.”

It was an eerie drive through the storm in the dark out into the wilds of North Nesting this evening to pick up the latest arrival at the sanctuary. Local postman Billy Mays had spotted the seal pup in his rear view mirror this afternoon after delivering the post to local crofter John Wishart at Kirkabister. He could not believe his eyes, as the pup was a good 600 meters up a steep hill away from the sea raging down below. John put the seal in his van and waited for us to arrive, by which time night had descended (around 4pm at the moment here in Shetland). All the seal wanted to do is sleep (and no wonder), which is all he did on the drive home. We laid him on the underfloor heating in the sea unit and he was out for the count in no time at all. So now we have two seal pups, and this one is called Rylee – named by Billy after his daughter (even though he’s a male). #selkie #sealpup #storm

Posted by Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary on Tuesday, 22 November 2022

Although Rylee is thin he appears to be quite healthy and has been sleeping a lot since being brought to the sanctuary.

It is hoped that they will be able to fatten him up and release him in the new year.

Billie came covered in ‘peck marks’

Last time there was constant stormy weather near the island there were around 14 gray seal pups, which is the most the sanctuary has had at once.

Rylee is now the second seal pup the sanctuary has rescued so far for the season.

Last week, they received a call about a fully moulted female seal pup lying on the Meal beach in Burra, clearly in need of help.

The Scottish SPCA was able to pick the selkie up and bring it to the sanctuary where she has been spending a lot of time sleeping off her ordeal.

Again, it is thought the stormy weather battered the seal – now called Billie – but the worst of her injuries is to her left eye.

Today there was a brief respite from the endless storm Shetland has been experiencing over the past week and as a result we received several calls about this fully moulted gray seal pup lying up on the beautiful sandy Meal beach in Burra clearly in need of help. Scott Kirkpatrick of the Scottish SPCA managed to pick it up this afternoon before the stormy conditions returned this evening, and he drove it north to Hillswick where we were in for quite a shock. This a fierce and feisty seal who has clearly been badly battered by the storm, but his biggest injury is to his left eye which has the worst ulcer we have ever seen. Whether he will manage to keep the sight in that eye will be a matter of time, but we shall be treating it as best we can and hoping for the best. But with those teeth and that attitude this is going to be some seal to work with! Many thanks to Sana Humphrey, who was the first person to report the seal this morning, and to Brian Goddard and his daughters for helping Scott rescue it after dark had set in. Sana has asked to name the seal Billie. We have yet to explore whether Billie is male or female. Any guesses? #selkie #sealpup #stormyweather

Posted by Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary on Monday, 21 November 2022

Mr Bevington thinks the injury was caused by birds pecking at her while she was stranded on the beach.

She must have been washed ashore and the birds have been having a go at her because she’s got peck marks all over her including her eye – her left eye is not in very good shape at all.

“We’re hoping we’ll be able to save her eye.”

Follow Rylee and Billie’s progress on the Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary Facebook page.

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[Seal pups recuperating in Shetland wildlife sanctuary following stormy weather]

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