nesquik credit barry williams

Two seal pups have been rescued from Norfolk beaches and nursed back to health by the NHS – Norfolk Hospital for Seals – after being found weak and unresponsive. The babies – each estimated to be just days old – were found separately and taken in by the rehabilitation team at SEA LIFE Hunstanton. Both pups have been named after popular drinks by the animal care team, earning them the names Rubicon and Nesquik, and are being cared for at the site’s specialist seal hospital.

Rubicon was the first to be rescued after being found alone, weak and dehydrated on Snettisham Beach in June and, after a worrying initial period, is now making great progress and growing stronger every day. Nesquik - pictured here - was found on Heacham Beach just days later. The tiny pup was still a newborn with his umbilical cord attached.

It is thought that Nesquik had been alone for some time and on arrival to the seal hospital he was incredibly weak, but since entering the care of the team he has gone from strength and is currently learning to eat fish by himself.

Rubicon and Nesquik are just two of many seals that SEA LIFE Hunstanton have rescued in recent years from Norfolk and the surrounding counties – reaching 50 rescues in one year alone – helping to support the area’s dense population of Common and Grey Seals. Any rescues that take place are in the interest of saving the sea creatures’ life, as they typically suffer from injuries or infections and aren’t strong enough to recover on their own or are too young to have learnt how to catch and eat fish to survive by themselves. The animal welfare experts at the site take on the role of ‘mum’ to provide everything the pup needs to survive and grow strong, feeding them fish soup made from their natural food source – herring – mixed with rehydration fluid to help their bodies recover.

Once the pups have learnt how to eat whole fish, they are moved to a larger pool with other pups of similar ability, allowing them to start learning social skills. Next, they are introduced to the main seal pool until they reach their target weight and can be safely released into the wild.

With so many seals needing help each year, the experts at SEA LIFE Hunstanton Sanctuary and Aquarium Centre have released some key ‘do’s and don’ts’ to be aware of in case you encounter a seal on the coastline:

  • DO keep your dog on a lead - If you’re walking your dog on the beach in the winter months, be aware that seal pups may be present. A dog’s bite can do a lot of damage to a seal pup. 
  • DO keep your distance - A mum will only return to her pup if she thinks it is safe, so keep your distance but DO take a good look – if the pup is alone, thin, injured or seems unwell (noisy breathing, coughing, running nose), it may need help.
  • DO NOT feed - Feeding a wild animal can make them ill or change their natural behaviours.
  • DO NOT put any seal back in the sea - All seals haul out onto land to rest, digest and socialise. Seal pups also spend most of their time out of water. Putting them into the water could be very dangerous for them.
  • DO call for help - Telephone British Divers Marine Life Rescue on 01825 765 546, giving an accurate location. For more information, please visit:

Aside from rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing seals, SEA LIFE Hunstanton Sanctuary and Aquarium Centre is also home to six seals – Sally, Amber, Callie, Lora, Macey and Pippa – who are unable to survive in the wild on their own.

Visitors to the centre are welcomed to learn more about the seals’ individual stories at feeding presentations, as well as getting a spectacular underwater view of them in action, swimming through their enclosure.

For further information about the incredible conservation and rehabilitation work carried out by the SEA LIFE Hunstanton Seal Rescue Centre and Hospital, or to visit SEA LIFE Hunstanton’s resident seals, please visit:


PHOTO: Barry Williams

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