Cornish Seal Sanctuary

Nestled in the picturesque village of Gweek, near the mouth of the Helford River, the Cornish Seal Sanctuary is a haven for marine wildlife enthusiasts and families alike.

This much-loved attraction in Cornwall is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of sick, injured, or orphaned seals, offering visitors a unique opportunity to learn about these charming marine mammals and the conservation efforts to protect them.

Discovering the Cornish Seal Sanctuary

The Sanctuary plays a crucial role in marine conservation, with a history of caring for Cornwall’s seals and other marine animals for over 60 years.

It provides a safe refuge for seals and sea lions who are unable to survive in the wild, alongside otters, penguins, and a variety of marine fish species, offering an educational and engaging experience for all ages.

Meet the Residents

One of the highlights of visiting the Sanctuary is getting up close with its permanent residents, including the charismatic grey seals, playful Californian and Patagonian sea lions, and the cheeky Asian short-clawed otters.

The Sanctuary’s penguin colony is also a delight, with the birds’ playful antics captivating visitors.

Planning Your Visit

Getting There

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary is located in Gweek, approximately 10 miles from Falmouth.

The Sanctuary is accessible by car, with free parking available on-site.

Public transport options are limited, but the 35 bus service from Helston to Gweek offers a route for those relying on public transportation.

Tickets and Opening Times

The Sanctuary is open year-round, with opening hours typically from 10 am to 5 pm, though it’s always wise to check the official website for the most up-to-date information.

Booking tickets online in advance is recommended, particularly during peak holiday periods, to ensure entry and often at a discounted rate.

Best Times to Visit

Every season offers a unique experience at the Sanctuary.

Spring and summer provide the chance to see the Sanctuary at its busiest, with new rescues and the birth of pups, while autumn and winter offer a quieter visit, with the focus on seal rehabilitation.

Maximising Your Experience

Feeding Demonstrations: Don’t miss the feeding times, one of the Sanctuary’s daily highlights, where you can learn more about the animals from the knowledgeable staff and see the seals, sea lions, and penguins enjoy their meals.

Interactive Talks: The Sanctuary offers educational talks throughout the day, providing insights into the life cycles of seals, the threats they face in the wild, and the importance of conservation.

Hospital Visits: Visit the Seal Hospital to see the vital rescue and rehabilitation work first-hand and learn about the journey from rescue to release that many of the seals undertake.

Tips for Your Visit

Wear Suitable Clothing: The Sanctuary is an outdoor attraction with woodland walks and riverside paths, so dress appropriately for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes.

Respect the Animals: While it’s tempting to get close to the animals, always follow the Sanctuary guidelines to ensure the safety and well-being of both visitors and residents.

Support the Sanctuary: Consider adopting a seal or making a donation to support the Sanctuary’s conservation work. Every contribution helps to ensure they can continue their vital work.

Nearby Attractions

Helford River: Explore the beautiful Helford River and its creeks, a haven for wildlife and a beautiful spot for walking or kayaking.

Glendurgan Garden: Just a short drive from Gweek, this National Trust garden offers a peaceful retreat with exotic plants, a maze, and stunning views over the Helford River.

Falmouth: A vibrant town known for its deep harbour, beaches, and the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, offering a perfect day out for history buffs and beach lovers.


A visit to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary offers a heartwarming and educational experience, highlighting the importance of marine conservation in Cornwall’s stunning natural landscape.

It’s a unique opportunity to learn about the marine species that inhabit the Cornish coast and the efforts made to protect them.

Whether you’re an animal lover, a family in search of an engaging day out, or someone passionate about conservation, the Cornish Seal Sanctuary promises an unforgettable experience for all.