Cornwall-Seal Sanctaury

National Seal Sanctuary

Home to sea lions, fur seals and otters, this is primarily a rehabilitation centre for common and grey seals rescued around Cornwall’s coast.

The Seal Rescue Hospital provides a fascinating glimpse into the whole process, from rescue to release, and enables children to see pups at various stages of recuperation. The hospital is usually at its busiest during autumn and winter (the pupping period when young are at their most vulnerable). By the time the summer holidays arrive, most, if not all, of the patients have been treated and released back to the wild (or the sanctuary’s convalescence pool). It can be disappointing for children to see the empty hospital pens, but they can still take part in mock medical examinations using a lifelike seal model, complete with head marker tag, blanket and feeding tube. There are also plenty of other exhibits to keep them entranced at this gentle, slow-paced attraction on the banks of the Helford estuary.

Several pools (many with underwater viewing chambers) are home to resident common, grey, hooded and fur seals, while sea lions joined the gang in 2009. Every individual has a heartwarming story of survival which you can read about on the child-friendly information boards. Feeding times and talks are displayed at the entrance.

There’s also a quiz trail and a woodland nature walk that leads to an enclosure inhabited by Starsky and Hutch – two frisky and inquisitive Asian short-clawed otters. The Cornish Coast Experience, meanwhile, has dream rock pools teeming with crabs and blennies. A children’s play area is nearby, while the grassy bank above the seal pools makes a lovely spot for a picnic overlooking the estuary.

Don’t forget your pocket money – the sanctuary’s gift shops sell cuddly seals in all shapes and sizes, and every penny you spend here helps to fund the vital work of the seal rescue team.

National Seal Sanctuary, Gweek, TR12 6UG, T01326-221361
Open daily from 1000
£13 adult, £10 child (3-14), £36 family (book online for savings)

Click here to visit the official website of the National Seal Sanctuary.