Seal Rescue Ireland Update: Continuing our Work During the COVID-19 Crisis
It’s almost 3 whole months since we have had to close our visitor centre to the public due to the threat of the coronavirus. Where has the time gone? Facing challenges and overcoming obstacles related to the nationwide lockdown hasn’t been easy for anyone, be it businesses, families or individuals, but we can all hope that we will come out of the situation having grown stronger as a community, and ready to move forward together!
One of the positive outcomes of the whole situation is that we have seen, around the world, the effect of lockdown on nature. With human activities scaled back, we have seen an improvement in air quality, an increase in the abundance of birds and insects and some instances of animals thriving in the wild. It has allowed people across the globe to appreciate nature in their own backyards, and the simple virtue of living in tune with their local environment.
It is in that spirit that Seal Rescue Ireland continued to work diligently, caring for our rescue seals behind closed doors while advocating for conservation and the environment. The inspiring work of our dedicated onsite staff and interns, operating in isolated teams, has resulted in the successful release of 27 seals back into the wild during this period of lockdown. We were given special permission from the local Garda to access beaches in order to release our healthy pups despite the closure of these public spaces. We are grateful to be able to continue rehabilitating and releasing seals in need.
Although the Grey Seal pupping season was winding down at the outset of this crisis, we have had a few new seals admitted since the lockdown: Mulberry, Echinacea and Wax Myrtle. They were older pups in quite rough shape, riddled with signs of illness, malnutrition, and in Wax’s case, an entanglement wound. Mulberry was released on Monday last week (08/06/20), but Echinacea and Wax are well on their way to recovery and are currently eating well, fattening up, and building strength out in the pools.
Scribbly Gum had been with us for a while waiting for eye surgery, and thanks to the cooperation of the folks at UCD he was finally able to have the bad eye removed and is currently recovering well. Bayleaf had an infected toe, which the wonderful local vets in Gorey were able to take care of for us. Bayleaf was also released last week with Mulberry. We’ve been steadily releasing the last few healthy Grey Seals of the season, but Common Seal pupping season is right around the corner, so there’s plenty to prepare for the new pups that may soon need our help!
Although we have greatly missed interacting with visitors at our centre, engaging the public at fun summer festivals, and putting on enjoyable events, we have certainly had lots to keep us busy! In addition to caring for the seals, our staff have taken this period of closure as an opportunity to give a little TLC to our visitor centre and gift shop, with a fresh coat of paint and plenty of centre improvements in the works. We’re also taking advantage of the beautiful sunny weather to make some improvements to our outdoor spaces and are thankful for the ability to get outside for some fresh air in our local woodland and coastlines. We have also used this opportunity to take part in Love Gorey’s fantastic campaign, “My 2k Tidy Up” picking up litter in our local community while out on our daily walks!
Our passionate staff have also been working on some new projects, including one that is focused on biodiversity in our local area. We have been busy cultivating biodiversity gardens surrounding our centre with a nice range of pollinator friendly plants. It is our hope to increase biodiversity in this way, attracting insects and crucial pollinators, which improve the overall environment and habitat for many species.
We are incredibly lucky to have our Seal Rescue Centre located next to the beautiful Courtown Woods. Our team has been using this as an opportunity to collect important data about the plant and animal species present, as well as conducting biodiversity surveys of the surrounding coastlines. The goal is to collect data to recognise the biodiversity of Courtown including trees, plants, mammals, insects and birds. As these woods are a small reminder of the native forests that once covered Ireland, it is important to protect this precious habitat by first understanding what’s here. This project will be ongoing and we will hopefully get some great information about what is living around us in order to protect and enhance it for the future! You can even get in on the fun by ordering one of our limited edition Backyard Biodiversity Activity Packs to get the kids excited about all the wonderful life abounding in their own backyard (https://www.sealrescueireland.org/product/backyard-biodiversity-activity-pack/).
It has been incredible to see our dedicated team of international interns continue working to keep our centre running while being away from their friends and families at home. We are also delighted to have seen a couple of our interns make it safely back to their home countries in the UK, Italy and Portugal as their time with us drew to a close. We hope to be able to open up to invite more interns to join as soon as it is safe to do so.
We are so grateful that we have the ability to continue our work and fulfill our duty protecting our local wildlife and environment, and it’s all thanks to you! In that spirit, we took part in a global campaign “Giving Tuesday Now” on the 5th of May which allowed us to give a great big thank you to everyone who helps make our work at Seal Rescue Ireland possible. From all of the volunteers who work at the centre and in our rescue network, to people and companies who have sponsored kennels and pools, to everyone who has supported us with donations and adoptions over the years, to our local community and our members who ensure ongoing support to continue our work.
Thank you for helping us navigate these difficult and uncertain times. We are all in this together, and we truly hope that we will come out of this situation stronger. We are looking forward to the day where we can welcome you to our centre once more!