Home > Blogg > A Hospital for Seals

This winter I spent two months volunteering at the Seal Rehabilitation and Research Centre (SRRC) in Pieterburen, Netherlands. This centre works as a hospital for sick or injured stranded seals at the North coast of the country. The freezing winter of Low Lands is not exactly the scenario I imagined to spend my holidays, but the seals and the people made everything very enjoyable!

About the seals and the SRRC.

Who goes into the SRRC? The centre receives common seals (typically lungworm patients) and grey seals (orphaned pups and emaciated seals).

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The main goal? The seals spend some time at the hospital being treated and when they’re healthy and gained weight, they are released into the wild.

Volunteers’ work? Assist the nurses at the seal care with feedings, cleaning and medical procedures. As well as administration duties, helping at the Visitor’s Centre and going to the pick-ups and releases.

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I was presented to my new workmates (also housemates) and the adventure begun! The bites, cuts, bruises and wet clothes started to be part of my daily routine. The days at the SRRC start early in the morning (6am) and don’t finish until the last seal has been fed (sometimes around 11pm). That’s why work teams are divided in a morning or “O” shift and a late shift.

First of all… preparing the fish porridge. Volunteers take turns to prepare the salmon porridge really early in the morning for all the hungry seals.

7am: First feeding and “big cleanup”. After a short meeting, the team splits in smaller groups to go feed all the seals at the hospital. Diets are prepared, medicines are checked and the work starts! The morning feeding includes an exhausting cleanup under strict protocols.

After the first feeding there is no break! There’s a lot to do at the hospital, people arealways in a hurry to keep everything running.

There is a second feeding at 11am and after this, a lunch break. More than lunch, everyone runs to the couch to have a power nap and a piece of chocolate (the best fuel)… 2pm – Here we go again! This time with the late shift team. Third feeding, medicines and controls. After this, the phrase “O-shift can go” set the morning shift free… While late shift continues.

There is a last feeding at night, a last round to check everything is going okay and the seals are doing fine. But the work is not done yet. Late shift has to prepare everything for the next day: feeding lists, kitchen cleanup, laundry… And that’s it.

Despite the cold weather and the infinite showers, all the hard work is finally rewarded when you get to see the big healthy seals going back into the sea!


Collateral damage such as making seal noises and performing “seal dance moves” is not responsibility of the SRRC!

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