The Cornish Seal Sanctuary is located in Gweek, on the Helford Estuary, near Helston, in Cornwall. Their aims are to rescue and care for sick, injured or distressed marine animals, and if possible return these animals to the wild. In recent years the Cornish Seal Sanctuary has taken in between 50 and 60 seals, particularly pups, every year. In the last 60 years, it has rescued more than 2,000 seals.
We visited the sanctuary in mid summer towards the end of August. It was very busy as a result. Once through reception, with tickets purchased, there is the option of a short walk to the sanctuary facilities or a small land train. We opted for the land train as we had grandma with us. There are lovely views across the Helford Estuary from the sanctuary.
The first building you come to is the seal rescue hospital. We skipped the hospital as we were here in summer and there were no pups present. One point to note is that seal pups are born between September and December so a visit during this time would see much more activity. There was only one juvenile seal, which had been injured, at the centre during our visit. All the other seals being older residents which can not be released into the wild. My recommendation would be to visit the centre between September and March/April time when the pups would be being cared for and getting ready to be released back to the world.
The main part of the sanctuary consists of several pools, all with different purposes and for different species of seal. Our visit started at the convalescence pool where we saw the resident seals being fed and heard our first talk. There are several feedings and talks at the different pools throughout the day. They are very worthwhile as they introduce the various seals and explain the work of the centre. There are also pools for Californian Sea Lions, Common Seals, Grey Seals and Patagonian Sea Lions. Our favourite were the two enormous Patagonian Sea Lions.
After viewing the various seal pools we stopped for a quick lunch at the cafe. We wet for pasties but they also served sandwiches, sausage rolls, burgers and sausage baps. The boys had a quick play on the playground (meant for younger children!)
As well as the seals you can see penguins, otters and farm animals at the Sanctuary. We enjoyed the short stroll along the estuary, through the woods, to view the otters.
The Seal Sanctuary provides a children’s activity sheet with various activities and questions to be answered throughout the park. The boys enjoyed these activities and questions.
We spent more than three hours at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary. We found our visit interesting but there would have been more to see and learn if we had been here during the seal pup season. During the summer the sanctuary is probably best suited to younger children.
HANDY TIPS FOR A DAY OUT AT THE CORNISH SEAL SANCTUARY
- Watch the feedings and listen to the talks. They are really informative and take place throughout the day.
- The Cornish Seal Sanctuary is very child friendly with plenty of wide open spaces and a children’s playground.
- The activity sheet and various activities are well worth doing with older children.
- The sanctuary is dog friendly although dogs must be kept on a lead.
- There are toilets and baby changing facilities in the main reception and next to the ice cream counter by the seal hospital.
- There is a cafe serving drinks, snacks and meals.