Save Our Seals: Help build a new seal pup hospital

Natalie Waddington profile

Project by Natalie Waddington

Total raised £39,954

raised so far

+ est. £6826.25 Gift Aid



We urgently need your support to build a new seal pup hospital so we can continue our lifesaving work

We're still collecting donations

On the 12th March 2021 we'd raised £31,189 with 801 supporters in 35 days. But as every pound matters, we're continuing to collect donations from supporters.

 New stretch target

Extra funds would allow us to purchase blood analysis machines. These would be incredibly useful for helping our vets diagnose problems, and hence provide appropriate treatments, at a much faster rate than we can now.

Marine mammal health and welfare is at the heart of what we do. 

However, without your help, we may be unable to continue our vital work caring for sick and injured seal pups in Cornwall. 

We want to open a brand new, purpose-built seal pup hospital with more than double the capacity we have now.


Who are we?

British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) is a national charity dedicated to responding to marine mammals in distress. Since 1988, we have attended thousands of calls to seals, porpoises, dolphins, and whales, utilising our large network of nearly 2000 volunteer ‘BDMLR Marine Mammal Medics’. Our medics attend a course which gives them the knowledge and practical skills to be able to respond to these calls, including carrying out assessments on animals and providing first-aid. 

In the UK we are fortunate to share our coastline with some amazing and charismatic species that have captured the human imagination for centuries. Everyone here at BDMLR is passionate about protecting this marine life and helping to conserve it for future generations to come.

Seal pups in danger

Around 90% of our calls are to seal pups. They face numerous threats even during the first few critical months of their lives. Sadly, many of these threats are a result of human activity- be it disturbance of mothers and their young pups, entanglement in discarded fishing gear, or being caught up in the increasing numbers of winter storms we are seeing each year as a result of climate change.

Partly as a result of these threats we are receiving more and more calls to seal pups each year who desperately need our help. They may have become separated prematurely from their mother, or be malnourished, sick or injured. 

Our trained volunteers can attend these animals and ensure they are taken to safety. The aim is always to deliver them to a specialist rehabilitation centre as soon as possible, with the hope they are eventually released back to the wild.


BDMLR’s Seal Pup Hospital in Cornwall

Cornwall is one of our busiest regions in the country for calls to seal pups. 

For over 10 years now, BDMLR have not only been rescuing pups from around the South-West region, but we have also been taking them into our own seal pup hospital. This hospital acts as an essential overflow for the regions larger rehabilitation centres, and we aim to provide temporary, emergency care for seal pups until spaces become available at the larger centres. There they can fully complete their rehabilitation and get ready for release.

These first few days or weeks of a pups rehabilitation are the riskiest and the time when the level of care required will be at its most intense.

So far, the hospital has admitted over 550 seal pups who would otherwise have had nowhere else to go in their time of need. Each pup’s care has been under the direct supervision of veterinary surgeons experienced with seals and supported by a fantastic community of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure pups are kept comfortable, fed and clean.


The need for growth

As the numbers of calls have increased, so have the numbers of seal pups who require urgent care. This has placed a huge demand on our small hospital, with resources being stretched to their limits and volunteers working around the clock to ensure every pup gets what it needs. With the onset of the COVID pandemic, we have finally reached a critical point.

We are determined to keep up with the demands being placed on us but, with no room for expansion at our current location, to do this we require a new facility to be built.

We want to open a brand new, purpose-built seal pup hospital with more than double the capacity we currently have. The building has been carefully designed to ensure an optimal environment for the pups during their first stage of rehabilitation. It will also feature a state-of-the-art training facility, enabling us to keep our volunteers knowledge up to date with the most recent developments in seal pup care. 


We care about people too

At BDMLR, our volunteers are of the upmost importance.

We want to ensure that all our volunteers get the most out of their experience with us.  

We have known for some time now that our team of medics benefit a lot from their volunteering with BDMLR.  They have shared with us examples of the social, emotional and mental health benefits they gain through participating in deeply meaningful activity where their actions really matter.  

Our seal pups are more than recipients of our care, sharing time with them offers the potential to develop vital life qualities such as empathy and compassion.

This hospital’s training facility will enable us to further invest in our volunteers, supporting our team through workshops and mentoring to build upon their emotional literacy and resilience, and enabling our medics to become true ocean advocates within their communities. 


What can you do to help?

We are so excited about this project and the security it will provide vulnerable seal pups with for years to come, but to make it happen we urgently need your support.

In order to reach our funding goal we need to raise another £30,000.

You can help our campaign by making a donation, enjoying our rewards, sharing our story on your social media or even by holding your own fundraiser in support of our own (click the 'Start Fundraising' button to get started)!

Any donations, big or small, will be very gratefully received and put to good use helping pups like Desi whose story you can read below.


Desi’s story


Desi was rescued one night in November in the midst of stormy weather. He was exhausted, freezing cold and had various injuries. He was rescued by BDMLR medics and taken to our hospital for a full veterinary assessment and further treatment. Despite his temperature coming back up over the following night Desi remained extremely lethargic and the next day seemed to deteriorate further. In the afternoon, one of our medics witnessed Desi being very sick- it seemed he had unfortunately eaten a bird carcass in his search to find something to eat - and this had resulted in a very serious stomach upset.

Desi remained very unstable for the next few days and there were times we thought he wouldn’t make it. Our lead vet gave him a thorough check over each day, carefully monitoring his progress and adjusting the various treatments he was on. Combined with the care from the hospital’s volunteers ensuring he was comfortable and fed appropriately, we eventually saw Desi turn a corner about a week later.

One of our volunteers looking after Desi said: “It was a huge relief when Desi’s health took a positive turn having spent a lot of one to one time with him using various enrichment games to encourage him to eat for himself.  Once this clicked for Desi there was no turning back and his appetite grew daily.  By the time rehabilitation centre space opened up (17 days after his rescue), Desi was like a completely different seal, a vocal, strong and healthy pup ready to complete his recovery and return to the wild”. 


Desi is just one of 108 seal pups we have cared for in this past winter alone- each with their own unique story. Please help us to care for even more pups like him in the future by donating to our campaign and sharing our message as widely as you can.


Thank you so much for your support!


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This project offered rewards

£10 or more

A warm feeling in your heart :)

The warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you know you're supporting a great cause and helping to give vulnerable seal pups a second chance at life :)

£20 or more

'Thank you' postcard

A limited edition BDMLR 'Thank you' postcard made in support of this Crowdfunder campaign, with a message from the BDMLR team.

£30 or more

Valentine's message from Desi the seal

**This reward must be obtained before February 10th to be created in time!** A Valentine's gift like no other! Let us know the name of who the message is for and who it's from- then Desi the seal pup will create you a fantastic personalised, video Valentine's message :)

£30 or more

Mother's Day message from Desi the seal

**This reward must be obtained by the 10th March to be created in time** Surprise your mum with a message from Desi the seal pup! Tell us who the message is for and who it's from and we'll send you your personalised video message from Desi himself!

£150 or more

A space on our virtual sponsorship wall

Have your name or business name added to our virtual sponsorship wall for a whole year (this will be featured on our website and on the new hospitals Facebook page)!

£200 or more

A virtual guided tour of the new hospital

Enjoy a tour of the brand new facility from the comfort of your own home!

£250 or more

Virtual guided tour + seal pup treatment session

Watch a virtual tour of the new hospital from the comfort of your own home, followed by joining our volunteers virtually during a seal pup treatment session. A really exciting look into our new facility!

£500 or more

60 minute online talk for businesses

Listen to one of our experienced BDMLR Marine Mammal Medics talk about the important work that BDMLR does around the country. Packed full of interesting information, fascinating stories of marine mammal rescues and of course the opportunity to ask questions!

£1,000 or more

Seal pen sponsorship and invite to the opening!

Sponsor one of our seal pup pens for a year- complete with a plaque above the pen with your name/business name on and regular mentions on our social media and website. Also includes an invite for two people to attend our opening ceremony in Summer 2021 (this will be dependent on the COVID guidelines at the time).

£2,500 or more

Amazing seal pup hospital experience!

A fantastic opportunity for two people to visit our new seal pup hospital during the seal pupping season in Winter 2021. Will include a full tour of the facility guided by one of our senior team members, an opportunity to meet the inpatients and join in with their treatments and feeds, time in the training room learning to handle seal pups using our state-of-the-art training models and a BDMLR merchandise pack to go home with!

£50 or more

Beautiful seal photo print pack

A set of six glossy 7"x 5" seal images from award winning photographer and cameraman Doug Allan, and our very talented Marine Mammal Medics, given to BDMLR specifically for this great cause.

£100 or more

BDMLR merchandise pack

Pack includes a BDMLR neck gaiter, BDMLR car sticker, fluffy seal pup toy, seal magnet, metal seal key chain and BDMLR pin badge.

£125 or more

BDMLR Marine Mammal Medic course and T-shirt

A place on one of our incredibly popular BDMLR 'Marine Mammal Medic' courses where you can learn everything you need to know to rescue marine mammals in distress. Also includes a medic T-shirt.

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