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Teesmouth Seal Rescue and Coastal Conservation Centre

Teesmouth Seal Rescue and Coastal Conservation Centre

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Harbour Seals

About Seals

The UK is home to 40% of the European Harbour Seal population. 

Harbour Seals are protected in Britain under the Conservation of Seals Act 1970 and classified as a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

Of the nine Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) designated for Harbour Seals, four have declining numbers, four remain stable and only one (in South-East England) is increasing.  

The differences in these regional trends have resulted in large differences in seal populations and, overall, the UK population of Harbour Seals is in concerning  decline.

Teesmouth Seal Conservation Trust (TSCT) has been established because of the imperative to help local seal populations close to the point of need.

There is of course, great public concern that has been widely reported in the Press, about the distress local seals are facing. The Northeast coastline has one of the highest rates of people reporting seals in trouble anywhere in the British Isles, and yet, there are currently no local facilities close to Teesmouth to help with seal care and rehabilitation.

From the mid-1800s to the 1930s, industrial activity on the River Tees resulted in habitat loss and pollution that decimated the local seal colony. However, environmental cleanup and restoration efforts in the last half of the 20th century have resulted in the re-establishment of an active seal colony at Seal Sands, now home to two species of seals - common seals (Phoca vitulina) and grey seals (Halichoerus gryphus) - whose populations continue to grow. 


The grey seals (whose Latin name means “hooked nose”) can be distinguished from common seals by their comparatively longer faces. These seals have pups in the autumn and winter, and their pups are born with a fluffy white coat. This coat moults when the pups are about 10 days old. Grey seals can live up to 40 years and adult males weigh 300kg!


Common, or harbor seals, have shorter, rounder noses than grey seals and are smaller in stature - adults weigh up to 150kg. This species gives birth in the summer, and their pups’ white fur is actually shed before birth so common pups are the same color as adults. 

Common Seals
Keeping Seals Safe

TSCT is delighted to partner with existing wildlife rescue groups in the North East that are helping sick and injured seals in the River Tees and adjacent coastlines. Our region already has a small number of rehabilitation spaces available, but the majority of rescued seals are rehabilitated at larger centres elsewhere in the UK, and are thus released outside of the North East. We are very excited to increase the rehabilitation capacity in our region and to be able to release seals near their home colonies. 

While we’re getting our rescue centre renovated and ready to accept seals, if you see a seal in distress please report it to the RSPCA or British Divers Marine Life Rescue.

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