Leave as you find!

Our fabulous volunteer, Haley Dolton (from University of Exeter, Penryn) made us a beautiful ‘infographic’ leaflet describing the ideal seal interaction showing how to watch seals safely!

Do you watch seals from land? If so, here’s our advice about how to get the best view of seals.


Seals need to spend time on land to rest, digest their food and replenish their oxygen supplies. We need to make sure when we watch them that we do not change their behaviour!

When disturbed a seal will

  • Look up
  • Release stress hormones
  • Breathe faster and have a racing heartbeat
  • If it continues to be frightened, it will have a flight response
  • It might stampede into the sea – using precious energy
  • It could hurt itself rushing to the water over sharp rocks where it may rip out a claw or gash its belly
  • When it hits the water suddenly,  it will get cold shock just like you and I.


Do you watch seals from the sea? If so, here’s how to enjoy this amazing wildlife spectacle in their environment.


Disturbance is a change in behaviour in response to a human activity.

Did you know it can be a criminal offence to disturb seals depending on where they are? It is always good to err on the side of caution. The worst disturbance event CSGRT ever recorded was 10 stampedes into the sea within 70 minutes. This came from a number of land, air and sea based sources.

What you can do to put seals first:

  • Shhh! Talk in whispers and stay upwind
  • Give seals space: avoid pups and seals on land
  • Keep your pets under control and quiet
  • If a seal is looking at you, you are probably already too close!

From boats

  • Slow down
  • Have you boat side on and be predictable
  • Let sleeping seals lie
  • Stay a short time
  • Never feed a wild seal
  • In the sea let seals come to you


So our top tips are:

  • Put seals first
  • Leave seals as you find them
  • Quietly enjoy watching the wild behaviour of this globally rare, charismatic species


Massive thanks to Haley for her wonderful design work, without which this invaluable resource would not exist.