National Seal Sanctuary // Helford

Grey Seal
Seal Sanctuary sealion
Injured seal

The National Seal Sanctuary is a haven for injured and orphaned seal pups set on the picturesque Helford Estuary in the lovely village of Gweek

The National Seal Sanctuary began in 1957, and moved to Gweek in 1975. It started when a baby seal was washed up on the beach at St Agnes and discovered by Ken Jones, who picked it up the pup and took it back to his nearby garden. This was the start of a small rescue centre for seals and oiled birds. As news of his work spread and he received more calls about injured seals, Ken realised he needed more room.

After the move to Gweek, Ken gradually increased the size of the sanctuary and number of pools, to enable him to care for the increasing number of injured seals from around the Cornish coast. The present sanctuary is set on the picturesque Helford Estuary in the lovely village of Gweek. It provides a haven for injured and orphaned seal pups and is also home to both grey seals and common seals, as well as Californian and Patagonian sea lions, ponies, donkeys, goats and otters. Occasionally the facilities are used to rescue other marine creatures such as dolphins and turtles.

Today there are nursery, convalescence and resident pools, as well as a specially designed hospital. This includes isolation pools, as well as treatment areas. Most seals are eventually well enough to be released into the wild after treatment, but those which would not survive back in the wild, for various reasons, remain as guests in the sanctuary.

Every year around thirty seal pups are rescued from almost certain death around the Cornish beaches. They are taken to the seal hospital first and then, once they are on the road to recovery, are moved to the outdoor nursery and convalescence pools. An audio visual display illustrates some of the rescue work and visitors can wander round the pools. There is some underwater viewing and feeding times are particularly popular, three times each day.

Open every day of the year apart from Christmas Day. Our opening times are from 10am.