Spending time at a Seal Sanctuary

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I WAS truly excited about the prospect of visiting such an iconic Skegness tourist attraction and upon arriving it did not disappoint.

All the memories of a young child flooded back as I cast my eyes on the happy blue buildings of Natureland Seal Sanctuary.

It was opened in 1965 by John Yeadon and through its humble beginnings here it stands today as not just a fun place to visit but also a vital charity for animal rescue.

I was greeted at the reception by Director Duncan Yeadon, who now runs it alongside director and brother Richard Yeadon.

We were first met by three cute yet very old seals one was 45! Duncan explained that seals don’t often live to this age but living at the sanctuary they are properly looked after and kept out of harms way.

Duncan explained that two types of seals come to the sanctuary which are Common Seals or Harbour Seals (Phoca Vitulina) that are usually found around sandy coastlines. They are the largest single colony and found around the Wash, Lincolnshire and Norfolk.

The other type, he explained, are the Grey or Atlantic Seal (Halichoerus Grypus) which are much larger than the Common Seal and spend more time at sea. Their breeding ground can be found at Donna Nook approximately 22 miles north of Skegness.

The main threats to seals in the wild I was told, is actually human activity and in some parts of the world seals are still hunted for their fur and blubber. Seals are also at risk due to over fishing, chemical pollution discarded ropes, nets and fishing lines which they can get entangled in.

Which is where Natureland and its band of helpers come in, fortunately the day I visited, there were no seals in the Seal Hospital.

Approximately 618 seals have been admitted and cared for since the hospital began.

Part of Naturelands work is to care for abandoned baby seal pups, injured or sick and hopefully return them to full health before releasing back into the wild.

Since opening, many other usual animals have been rescued or come to stay including dolphins, whales and a lost walrus which became national news.

Several different birds have also been taken care of including , a pelican, numerous oiled seabirds and birds of prey.

Every year, particularity during breeding season, seal pups are washed up on the beaches around Skegness, abandoned or separated by their mothers in the treacherous tides. They are the lucky ones, Duncan say’s as they are bought into Naturelands Seal Hospital where they are cared for using methods carefully researched since 1966.

At Natureland the seals are not the only attraction, as visitors can see the penguins, the Soay sheep, which are thought to be one of the oldest breeds that are nestled around the back in their luxury green pen.

Some visitors might not be a fan of the next spot on the tour, but I was intrigued by the Tropical House which is home to Caiman crocodiles, tarantulas, mice, iguanas, snapping turtles, fish and more.

I also got the chance to see stunning tropical birds and flamingos located next to the Floral Palace which is also home to a vast array of beautiful butterflies from around the world.

The luscious sweetly scented plants provide a calm tranquillity right in the heart of Skegness.

As we made our way to the last stop we peered into the Pets Corner to see cute bunny rabbits, guinea pigs but also goats and two turkey’s called Will and Kate, which I was told are always popular with the visitors.

But perhaps one of the most impressive spots, is the Aquarium which is home to a vast array of tropical freshwater fish, marine fish, local fish varieties and invertebrates.

I really enjoyed my visit to Natureland Seal Sanctuary and implore all to make a visit whatever age you are as there really is something for everyone. Natureland is open daily from 10am and can cater for schools, clubs and societies where special admission prices can be catered for.

There is a wonderful gift shop, the Blue Lagoon Restaurant and dogs are also welcome, provided they are kept on a leach.

Admission costs £7.20 for adults, £5.90 for OAPs, £4.70 for children and family tickets for two adults and two children under the age of 15 costs £21.40.

There is also an opportunity to become a permanent friend of the Seal Hospital and help fund the charitable work of the sanctuary. Or why not adopt one of the animals at Natureland, where funds will help pay for their veterinary care, food and comfortable life. For more information visit Natureland Seal Sanctuary, North Parade in Skegness or call 01754 764345 or visit www.skegnessnatureland.co.uk.