The Seal Centre in Pieterburen took in the first seal pup of the summer season on Saturday, but the young animal passed away on Sunday morning.
The Groninger Internet Courant reports that the seal was first spotted on a beach on the Frisian island of Vlieland on Friday. A local marine mammal rescue unit checked on the pup and attempted to monitor her for 24 hours, but when they returned to the spot, she was no longer there.
Another call came in at around the same time reporting a young pup had been spotted 1.5 kilometres further up the beach. Rescuers suspect that the animal was picked up and relocated by someone who found her, which distressed the seal pup.
The seal was taken to the Pieterburen centre due to her weakened condition. She underwent a medical evaluation, but the staff were aware of the tenuous nature of her health and stated that they were uncertain whether she would make it.
On Sunday morning, the centre announced that the young animal has passed away overnight. “She had a peaceful night, but we believe that the events of the past few days caused her severe distress. She was also still very small.” The centre said they hoped to determine an exact cause of death on Sunday, but no announcement has been made yet.
The seal rescue centres and the Wadden Sea Association posted a video on Friday to warn well-meaning members of the public from threatening the safety of newborn seals. The video, titled “Maak van een zeehondenpup geen wees” (“Don’t cause a seal pup to be orphaned”), encourages people to keep their distance from young pups. Mid-May through early June is the birthing season for seals, and the pups are nursed by their mothers for 3 to 4 weeks before being left unattended. This nursing phase is crucial for the health of the young mammals.