Every vacation, every trip brings new stories.
Memories that will last a lifetime.
The Seal Centre in Pieterburen is the largest shelter for seals in the Netherlands. Since 1971, seals have been taken in that have been injured, sick or orphaned. In the winter, common seals with lungworm or grey seal pups are often taken care of. In the summer these are often pups of the common seal. Every seal in need is helped and will be released when it has recovered.
Before the release, a seal goes through three phases in the shelter. During your day in the centre you will experience these different phases up close and assist in the recovery of the seals. In the first phase, intensive care, you will find seals that have recently arrived. As soon as they are strong enough to swim and eat herring, they move on to phase 2, rehabilitation. Some seals in this area still need forced feeding and the basins are equipped with red lights, which the seals can lay on if they cannot keep their own body warm. As soon as the animals can eat independently and no longer need medication, they go to the final phase to further strengthen until they are ready for release. The water in these basins is mixed with salt to allow the animals to get used to seawater again. On the day of the release, the seals are loaded in heavy wooden boxes. After this they are released at the beach near Pieterburen.
"More and more often it happens that seals get caught in fishing nets and end up in the shelter."
Once back in the sea water, the seals and many other living things will notice the large effects of plastic in the sea. It is becoming increasingly common for seals to become entangled in fishing nets and end up in shelters. In addition, the food of seals is also contaminated; fish perceive plastic as food and thus get plastic inside their bodies. The seals that eat these fish also automatically receive plastic in their bodies, or they swallow plastic themselves. This plastic waste causes damage to the stomach and intestines and is not digested. The stomach is "full" and the animal can no longer eat. That is why we are committed to a plastic-free sea and you will be working on a beach clean-up under the supervision of the Seal Centre.