I had taken the financial hit for admission the evening before and saved a few quid by buying the tickets online. One thing I like about the tickets here are they are valid for a week, which is ideal if you want to nip out for a spot of lunch or something. After both kids had wrestled the giant seal pup cuddly toys in reception we moved on in search of the real thing.
|Pools with a view|
|A cute common seal|
In the next pool are the grey seals. These are very different to their neighbours being far bigger and not quite so pretty. Their scientific name, Halichoerus grypus, means "hooked-nosed sea pig" which I think is a little harsh. I’d say they look a bit more like bull terriers. With their size and appearance they do, on first impression, appear quite menacing. However, after spending a few minutes watching their individual personalities begin to shine through and they appear far less intimidating.
|A hook-nosed sea pig!|
Between the seal pools is a little underground room with windows facing into the pools. You get some great views of the seals swimming around and get about as close as you can. The common seals seemed a little more inquisitive coming over to the glass to have a look out at us. Not sure how much they can see through the glass but they seemed remotely interested.
A little way along from the grey seals are the fur seals. These probably get a quiet life being located between the main seal pools and the sea lions. In fact, no offence to fur seals, but they do look a bit like second rate sea lions!
|Can't think why they called them sea lions|
At this point we took a break for lunch. As the tickets are valid for a week there is no obligation to stay on site, although the café prices aren’t too bad and there are plenty of places to sit if you bring a packed lunch. I read somewhere that you would have trouble amusing yourself here for an hour - maybe if your kids are addicted to their games console or you have the attention span of a gnat this could be true. We had no problem with a 4 and 7 year old in tow.
We just missed otter feeding time, probably no bad thing as I’ve seen what otters eat! The otter area is located along side a creek at the end of another woodland walk. These little guys seemed fairly friendly and even came to have a look at us through their underwater, human-viewing window.
That was pretty much our day. Spent a bit of time in the children’s play area and watched the sea lions being fed then back on the safari bus to reception. There is a seal hospital near the convalescence pool but we didn’t really have the time or energy to check it out.
All in all I like the Seal Sanctuary. At £35 for four of us it seems a bit expensive, but then it’s a good cause. Something I really like about the Seal Sanctuary is it still has the same feel as it did when I first visited around 30 years ago. It doesn’t try to be something it isn’t and is still all about the seals, with a few penguins and otters thrown in for good measure! Another bonus is it is a dog friendly attraction, not that there are dogs running everywhere.
I think if I had to give a score out of 5 it would be a 4. It kept four of us entertained for most of a day so in my books that’s a result.