Friendly seal who often visits pub sent to rehab to ‘wean her off human contact’

Spearmint the seal has been sent to rehab to help ‘wean her off human contact’ after she was spotted visiting a pub, crossing a road, and interacting with swimmers

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Plymouth: Spearmint the seal spotted again in 2021

An overly-friendly wild seal has been taken into rehab in an attempt to wean her off human contact after she stopped being able to fend for herself.

Spearmint the North Atlantic gray seal has been a regular visitor of Plymouth Sound in Devon and has become friendly with the tourists and locals who feed her.

But the mammal – who has been pictured interacting with wild swimmers, climbing onto paddleboards, and wandering around outside a pub – has now become too friendly for her own good, and needs professional help to ensure she re-learns how to fend for herself as a wild animal.

The RSPCA has helped put Spearmint into a rehabilitation program that will be “working around the clock” to get the seal “fit and healthy” enough to be released back into the wild.

Spearmint is being taken to rehab by the RSPCA


Rame Wildlife Rescue Network/BPM MEDIA)

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And when she is released, Spearmint won’t be sent back to live in her Devon home, the Daily Mail reports, as the RSPCA is hoping to release her into a remote part of Scotland where she can live out her days as a wild seal without becoming “habituated to humans.”

Funds for Spearmint’s relocation to Scotland were raised by Rame Wildlife Rescue Network – which is made up of multiple organizations – after they managed to pool together £5,000 for the cause.

The volunteers have been monitoring the seal since she was first spotted in Cawsand Bay, Cornwall, around seven months ago, and the rescue network was set up by Jessica Collins, who is a marine medic at British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR).

According to Jessica, this is actually the second time Spearmint has been taken into rehabilitation, as the first was due to human disturbance.

Spearmint on the beach in Devon



Spearmint on her way to rehab


She explained: “The main issue was when she started coming up the slipways. We had to barricade them. At one point she went under a lorry and also traveled along the road for some distance.

“We think someone fed her up there so she went looking for food. She was really at risk. Although at a young age she needed to be rehabilitated, her interest in humans grew once released as she was fed regularly by tourists.

“After multiple relocations, she found Cawsand Bay where we were able to control the situation better and keep people away. We all hoped she would rewild but upon discovering Plymouth this became more difficult and the feeding began once more and bad habits remained.

“This poor seal is an example of what happens when humans feed and habituate a wild animal. The animal is the one who suffers.”

Spearmint being taken to rehab


Rame Wildlife Rescue Network/BPM MEDIA)

In early April, Spearmint was spotted in the village of Cawsand after she left the beach and wandered up the road – and while the villagers created a barricade to stop her from getting onto the roads, she persisted in climbing on boats and eventually managed to get across.

Days later, the seal was found wandering around the neighboring village of Kingsand, before being seen again at Firestone Bay, Plymouth, where she was then returned to rehabilitation at the RSPCA West Hatch Animal Center in Taunton, Somerset.

A spokesperson from the BDMLR said: “Spearmint’s behavior had sadly been affected by people feeding her in the wild, resulting in her becoming over-friendly.

“We would like to share our heartfelt thanks to a large number of volunteers from many organizations and the community members who helped however they could with monitoring Spearmint over the last several months.

“Their efforts have given her the best possible chance to keep her in the wild in this region.”

Rame Wildlife Rescue Network said it hopes relocation plans will allow the seal to “live a wild life”, but if rehabilitation efforts are unsuccessful, Spearmint may have to spend the rest of her life in captivity in a seal sanctuary.

The group said the RSPCA will make an informed decision on the seal’s future, but insisted the raised funds would help to “give her the best possible solution going forward”.

“The key message throughout has been to give seals space and to not feed them, and we hope this carries through beyond Spearmint’s story and prevent this from happening again to another seal,” the BDMLR noted.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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