Benefit and necessity for seal care
There are lots of seals in the Wadden Sea. Thereâ€™s a large population and hundreds of pups are born every year among the harbour and grey seals. To guarantee the safety of the seal population in the Netherlands, seal rescue is no longer really necessary. Partially due to Ecomare, seal hunting ended in 1962 and there is growing support for protecting the (wetland) nature. This has helped the seal population to flourish. And that is good news! However there are still very good reasons for Ecomare to care for seals:
Animal protection and animal welfare
We help seals in need from the point of view of animal protection and welfare. They are protected animals, for which we have a duty to care for them. On Texel, there is also a big chance that a sick, wounded and/or orphaned animal beaches on a busy beach. The sanctuary is then a solution, both for animal welfare as well as preventing animal diseases transferring to humans and (domestic) animals.
By caring for animals, we also keep a close watch on how healthy the Wadden Sea and seal population are. Ecomare works closely with research institutes. We continually get a better understanding of these animals, their habitat and how to protect them.
Man as disturbance
Seals share their habitat with man and this can lead to problems. Examples are entanglement in ropes and nets and disruption in the birthing areas, resulting in a separation between mother and young. Helping animals that have problems due to humans is one of the key tasks of the sanctuary.
Professional rescue centers are necessary in emergencies
It can happen in nature: a virus or some other external influence can threaten the seal population. If that happens, the knowledge from professional rescue centers is essential. By maintaining rescue centers, the knowledge and experience is retained.
Ecomare is has a cautious policy when it comes to animal rescue. That means that we first consider whether or not help is really needed. Studies have shown that seal mothers often leave their pups alone for longer periods of time, but they still return. However, if a pup is lying on a busy beach, and therefore little chance that the mother will show herself, then we help the animal. Also when the animal is clearly sick, weakened or wounded. This requires expert judgement.
Information and education
Every year, Ecomare welcomes many visitors (more than 263,000 in 2016). We tell them the story of the seal and the Wadden Sea. This makes people aware of the problems for these animals. In this way, we help to contribute to a healthy Wadden Sea.