Taking into account the national COVID-19 measures, the Sealcentre Pieterburen has decided to open no earlier than the 1st of July. The main reason for this is that we want to guarantee the most important activities that we carry out in Pieterburen: rescuing seals in distress and rehabilitating the animals under our care. Because we cannot receive visitors we have a huge loss of income, but we have made the estimation that this does not outweigh the risks of opening up.

We have noticed that this decision nevertheless raises questions. That is why we would like to further explain the reasons here.

First, the Sealcentre is primarily a seal hospital. We take care of these animals in need from the wild and are supported by our donors and adopters to help these seals recover. We do this with a small team of veterinarians and experienced seal caretakers. The health of those people is crucial to ensure the health of the seals. Taking care of wild seals is a specialism and there is no easy replacement if one or more people from the team drop out. We have therefore organized ourselves into three teams: two care teams that work separately from each other and a third team that does all the work from home. Some of us haven't seen each other in weeks.

In order to carry out this work properly, we also rely heavily on the efforts of more than 100 international volunteers per year. They come to Pieterburen to be trained by us in taking care of seals, but also to do their internships and researches. They are the absolute strength of our center and cannot do without them. As a result of all the measures, a large number of volunteers have been forced to return home early and an even larger number have had to cancel their time with us. For some of them it was still possible to stay in Pieterburen in the past period and we are very grateful to them. But they alone were not enough and our office and visitor centre team has therefore assisted in seal care.

We base all our work and activities on scientific research. One of the pillars of that research is the long-term monitoring of viruses and other infectious diseases in seals. The reason why we are so careful and well protected around these animals is because we know, although there is little chance, that they can infect each other and us with infectious diseases. All over the world a lot of research is done to find out the properties and especially treatments of COVID-19. But in the end we do not yet know enough about it and we err on the side of caution.

Lastly, we want nothing more than to open up to visitors again. We are closely following developments now and during the month of June and are now adapting our visitor center to current guidelines. We hope, of course, that the trend remains as positive as it is now and that we can receive you safely in July. Until then, our preparations for the summer puppy season and this spring's seal releases can all be followed online.