A black seal in the rescue centre

Grey seals give birth to their pups on sand banks that are not submerged. The coat of the puppy is not yet suitable for swimming. So he has to stay dry. But during a major storm that can happen in the autumn, in combination with a spring tide, these sandbars are also flooded. As a result, grey pup Walt lost his mother. He was taken care of by us. And there he turned out to be a very special seal!

zwarte melanistische zeehond walt

Seal Walt

Grey seal Walt washed up on the beach of Terschelling around Christmas. He still had his white fur and couldn't take care of himself yet. He was taken to Sealcentre Pieterburen. There he was taken care of so that he could shed and gain weight.

Walt is melanistic

During his rehabilitation, we saw that Walt's nose was completely black. That was noticeable, because usually there are a few specks or spots in a different colour. When Walt started to shed, a completely black fur appeared. Walt turned out to be a melanistic seal.

Melanism is a rare abnormality. It is the opposite of albinism and is also known, for example, in black panthers. Walt has a genetic abnormality with an excess of pigment. As about ten seals with melanism have been rescued in the past 20 years (of which four in the past eight years), the Sealcentre has started a study into the relationship between these animals in collaboration with the Department of Marine Biology of the University of Groningen. This was the first time a black seal was brought in as a white seal pup. zwarte zeehond als witte zeehondenpup werd binnengebracht.

Recovery and release

Seal Walt spent a little longer than usual in intensive care. He did not eat independently and had to gain more kilos. After two months, Walt had moved to the outdoor pool, where he only spent two weeks. Then he was released on Ameland.

Watch this video

You can watch the video of his release here.

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