Sealcentre Pieterburen is 50 years old. Since 1971, people have been committed to improving the wellbeing of seals. It started at the time with a tub in the garden and has since grown into the biggest seal hospital in Europe with international publicity and also the broader goal to focus on protecting the natural habitat of the seal – the Wadden Sea.

When the rehabilitation of seals started, the hunt for seal fur had only been illegal for a few years. There were estimated to have been only 500 seals left in the Netherlands. This small population was under pressure from lasting effects of the hunt, delta works, and, above all, chemical pollution of the seawater. Due in part to the efforts of the seal rehabilitation centres along the Wadden Sea , the seal populations managed to survive.

Because of the outbreak of the seal virus in 1988, Sealcentre Pieterburen became very involved in scientific research. Virologist Ab Osterhaus discovered the until then unknown virus in conjunction with the Sealcentre. Since then, the centre has developed and implemented high-quality methods and care protocols for seals. For example, the centre features a seal-anaesthetics team, an operating room and a veterinary laboratory.

Sealcentre Pieterburen can rightfully call itself a hospital, as it is able to offer the best care a seal could wish for . At the same time, the Sealcentre holds the firm belief that the best place for a seal is a healthy sea. That is why Sealcentre Pieterburen strives to prevent the need for rehabilitation by focusing on awareness and education. In past years, the centre has emphasized the prevention of seal disturbances, keeping coastlines clean, and renewing the image of the seal as the Netherlands’ largest predator.

On average , the Sealcentre rehabilitates and releases around 300 seals annually. In the Netherlands the seal is a top predator, making it a measure for the health of the sea. That is why Sealcentre Pieterburen is committed to further develop itself scientifically and professionally for at least another 50 years. The ambition is to do this in a new centre, with the goal to continue our good work with seals and to protect the beautiful ecosystem that we as humans share with them – the Wadden Sea.


You candiscover our history in 50 steps through the visitor center. Online you can view the timeline where we start with the first steps and during this anniversary year you will find more and more highlights here.



the sealcentre over the years

Plattegrond 2021 web

 1. Intake seals 6. Fish kitchen, pharmacy and surgery room 11. Technical area
 2. Cinema 7. Phase 2 sealcare 12. Changing exhibitions
 3. Water purification 8. Phase 3 sealcare 13. Wadden garden
 4. Phase 1 sealcare 9.Offices vets and seal nurses 14. Summer pavilion
 5. Visitorscentre 10. Student campus 15. Wadden playground

 1971 2021


Celebrate with us

50 Years Seal Rescue

50 Years Seal Rescue

From tub to Wadden Sea in 50 years. Come along through history and discover how the Seacentre has grown into the largest specialized seal hospital in Europe, visible in words and pictures.

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Limited Editions

Limited Editions

Especially for our birthday we have had limited edition items made with a design of our own Aline. With this wear you make your statement that you are a seal rescue supporter!

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Festive activities

Festive activities

We are celebrating with fun games and activities online and even more festive activities. Here you will find fun downloads and online activities.

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