Thriving seal population at the port of Rotterdam, and ‘Wild Port of Europe - De Nieuwe Wildernis 2.0’

28 September 2020
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The seal population is doing well in the Zuid-Holland Delta, so that’s also the case in the port of Rotterdam. This century has clearly seen an increase in the numbers of these creatures. According to Marlies de Kraauw of the A Seal rescue centre, there are around 1500 grey seals and 1000 common seals living in the delta. Today, the Stellendam seal rescue centre released the two rescued seals Rami and Corneel on port of Rotterdam’s Maasvlakte beach. Veldkijker recorded the event for the film ‘Wild Port of Europe - De Nieuwe Wildernis 2.0’.


Despite Covid-19, the shooting for this wildlife film which is taking place in the ports of Rotterdam and Moerdijk is going well. “We were unable to get a number of shots during the past breeding season, so we’ve postponed them until spring. We still expect the film to premiere in the autumn of 2021,” says Melanie Kutzke of Veldkijker. “Over the past few months we have recorded some extraordinary footage of kestrels nesting in containers, marsh harriers on grasslands, nesting wagtails, young polecats at play, roe deer on a solar farm at Shell Moerdijk and now the release back into the wild of these seals.”

Calling card

The Port of Rotterdam Authority is rightly proud of its seal population. “The seals at Kleine Beer (Little Bear) Island are the port’s calling card. They salute all seafarers as they leave or arrive at the port. The Fast Ferry from Hoek van Holland to Maasvlakte makes a detour on every trip so passengers can take photographs of these creatures. The seals have made this place their home from which to hunt and rest undisturbed. Each day they consume about ten percent of their body weight in fish. So our seals can easily get through a few thousand kilos of fish a day,” says environmental consultant Robbert Wolf.

Dutch waters are home to the common seal (Phoca Vitulina) and the grey seal (Halichoerus grypus), the largest predator in the Netherlands. Both the common and the grey seal are on the Dutch Red List of Mammals. This lists all endangered mammals in the Netherlands. “Despite our restrained rescue policy, at A Seal we rescue over 100 seals a year. Many of our patients are pups and juvenile animals that have suffered external trauma, have become separated from their mothers or suffer from pneumonia. We also see animals that have waste around their necks or torsos,” says Marlies de Kraauw.

Rami and Corneel

Rami (seal 778) was found on 13/07/2020 in an unusual place: an industrial estate with little access to the waterside. Its mother was nowhere to be seen, and given the condition of the pup it seemed that mother and pup had been separated a few days earlier. At any rate, there was no way that the pup’s mother could have reached it there. The animal was admitted to A Seal to rebuild its strength.

Corneel (seal 781) was admitted on 18/07/2020 with a badly infected area on the left side of its mouth and it also had an injury to its left eye. External trauma is often the cause (possibly a bite) and treating the pain and infection in conjunction with a good diet usually does the trick. Corneel got back his strength, regained his weight and there’s no more sign of infection in his mouth.

Both animals have been given ID numbers using external flipper tags and microchip implants.