Liquorice the rare grey seal pup returns to the wild

Written by SEA LIFE Trust

Friday, 21 April 2023

  • Liquorice, a ‘melanistic’ pup, was admitted to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in January
  • Only one in 400 seals are melanistic – meaning they are entirely black
  • After a successful rehabilitation, Liquorice is now being released back to the wild

A rare grey seal pup rescued from Cornwall’s coastline has returned to the wild after a successful rehabilitation at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary.

The pup, called Liquorice, is ‘melanistic’, which means she’s completely black from head to toe – something seen in just one in 400 grey seals.

She first came to the Sanctuary back in January underweight and with breathing difficulties, after being spotted by local walkers who called the Cornish Seal Sanctuary for help.

Now, however, she has made a successful return to the sea after receiving expert care from the Sanctuary’s animal care team.

Tamara Cooper, the Sanctuary’s curator, says, “Liquorice is a really interesting pup, and we believe it’s just the third time in 20 years that a melanistic pup has been in our care.

“Her rare colouring made her an international hit, with visitors from across the UK and beyond making a special visit to the Sanctuary to see her.

“While it’s sad to see her go, we know the wild is the best place for her and we’re sure she will now thrive in the place where she is supposed to be.”

Liquorice has returned to the sea with two fellow pups, Sage and Turmeric.

Sage was admitted the Sanctuary in early March with multiple wounds and a broken digit, while Turmeric was rescued in January and eventually had an eye removed to prevent rupture.

Both have made a complete recovery, and have returned to the wild, alongside Liquorice, as the Cornish Seal Sanctuary comes to the end of another busy pup season.

Melanism is caused when too much of the pigment melanin has been produced, and appears in seals by giving them black eyes, fur and nails.

The condition is even rarer in female seals, who are typically lighter in colour than their male counterparts.

To find out more, click here.

Support Our Sanctuary

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary’s rescue, rehab and release project is all about saving grey seal pups from around the Cornish coastline.

Each year, the charity will see an estimated 70 pups come through the doors from September to March, with care for each pup costing an average of £2,000 - £3,000.

To find out more about the Cornish Seal Sanctuary and its mission, click here. You can support this pup season by donating to the team’s Wishlist Appeal here

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