Helping the Pinnipeds

Everyone can contribute to the saving of Baltic ringed seals and other marine mammals by transferring a voluntary donation to the account of the Marine Mammals Conservation Support Fund The Baltic Ringed Seal Friends Fund”. The money will be used to finance rehabilitation of marine mammals pups (purchase of fish to feed seals, medicaments and other necessary things) and research related to preservation of marine mammals and their habitat.

Bank details for donors: 

The Marine Mammals Conservation Support Fund “The Baltic Ringed Seal Friends Fund”

Account number: 40703810490200000024

INN: 7831000027

BIK: 044030790

Payment reference: for statutory activities of the Fund

Since 2013, Vodokanal together with the not-for-profit partnership Marine Mammal Rehabilitation Centre of the Leningrad Region and the Public Relations Agency “2PR” has been helping the endangered pinnipeds in the region. Seal pups undergo rehabilitation at the premises of Repino treatment plant in Kurortny District of St. Petersburg. When the animals gain enough strength and learn to find food on their own, they are released into their natural habitat.

On 5 September, after the Centre reconstruction, the Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Centre, unparalleled anywhere in Russia, was inaugurated. The event was attended by the Acting Governor of St. Petersburg G.S. Poltavchenko.

Official registration of the Baltic Ringed Seal Friends Fund ( was announced at the Centre inauguration ceremony. The idea of such fund was voiced on 10 April, at the meeting of the Public Council for the Gulf of Finland Year 2014 Trilateral Cooperation Project. Then Georgiy Poltavchenko upheld the Baltic ringed seal conservation project implemented with the support of Vodokanal. The key objective of the Fund is to preserve rare species of marine mammals in the Baltic Sea Region. The specialists are mainly focused on the saving of the Baltic ringed seal sub-population in the Gulf of Finland.

Rehabilitation season 2016

On 20 March 2016, the Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Centre admitted its first patient in this season. It was a female grey seal found by local inhabitants on the Gulf of Finland coast near the Okunevaya Bay in the Leningrad Region Vyborgskiy District. The animal was put into an individual isolation ward in the quarantine block. The pup weighed about 30kg and was 8-10 days old.

In total, 18 patients: 8 ringed seals (7 – Ladoga, 1 – Baltic sub-species) and 10 grey seals, have been admitted to the Centre since 20 March.

Photos of the first leaving event can be viewed here.

About rehabilition season 2016 read here

Rehabilitation season 2015

The first patient of the rehabilitation season 2015 was a female grey seal found by St. Petersburg citizens in the vicinity of Shepelevskiy Lighthouse at the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland.

The message about the first patient arrived on Friday evening 27 March. The animal was found by the citizens of the Leningrad Region strolling along the Gulf of Finland shore who called the hotline of the Baltic Ringed Seal Friends Fund. The pup was 5-7 days old, it was a little baby seal weighing 16 kilograms. The pup got rather far from the shore and was moving towards the forest. There was no cow around.

The animal was taken to the Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Centre and put to one of the isolation wards of the quarantine unit. The pup’s weight was insufficient for it to live on its own, it had severe dehydration and a small wound on its head.

On 10 April, the Centre received a new patient: a grey seal pup. The exhausted seal was found near the Schanz Fort in Kronstadt: it was creeping in the park within 200 meters from the gulf, screaming and clinging to the people passing by. The pup was put to an isolation ward of the Centre’s quarantine unit.

Two more patients, Ladoga ringed seals, were admitted to the Centre on 12 April. Their age was about one month. The first pup had been found near Lake Ladoga by the inhabitants of a settlement in the Leningrad Region Priozerskiy District. It weighed 4.1kg only. The second baby seal had been brought from the town of Priozersk; the animal was bleeding – birds had pecked at it.

On 13 April, the fifth patient, a female Baltic grey seal, was admitted to the Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Centre. Its age was between three weeks and one month, and it has been almost through its shedding period. The animal was exhausted, dehydrated and had no chance to survive without human help. The female seal weighed 16kg.

A fisherman who was fishing near the fifth Kronstadt fort caught sight of the baby seal. He reported about that to the RF FSB Border Guard Marine Inspection and they got in touch with zoologists. A motor-boat of the St. Petersburg Search and Rescue Team was used to save the seal pup.

The ninth patient was brought to the Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Centre from Vyborg on 20 April. The female grey seal had been found near the Vyborg Castle. It was noticed by concerned passers-by who called the MES rescue team. The team could save the pup and delivered it to Repino.

On 21 April, a Baltic ringed seal pup was admitted to the rehabilitation centre in Repino. The animal was found by the people walking along the shore near the village of Kandikula in the Leningrad Region Lomonosovskiy District. The pup was in an extremely critical condition.

On 3 May, a Ladoga ringed seal pup was delivered to the Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Centre. The male seal weighed 7.1kg. It had been found by Petersburgers on the Neva bank in Otradnoye (the Leningrad Region Kirovskiy District).

On 5 May, one more Ladoga ringed seal pup was brought to Repino. The female seal weighed just over 6kg – not enough to start an independent life. The pup had been found by local inhabitants not far from the town of Syasstroy in the Leningrad Region Volkhovskiy District. It was lying in shallow water of the Syass estuary.

On the Victory Day, 9 May, a female Ladoga ringed seal was brought to the Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Centre. It had been found on the western shore of Lake Ladoga, near the monument “Blockade Running” in the village of Kokkorevo, the Leningrad Region Vsevolozhskiy District.

The fourteenth patient, another female Ladoga ringed seal, was brought on the next day, 10 May. The pup weighed approximately nine kilograms. The baby seal had no visible damage or injuries, however, the little one suffered from a rather severe nutritional dystrophy and dehydration. It did not finish shedding. It had been found by Petersburgers on an outing at Vladimirskaya Bay coast (Lake Ladoga, near the town of Priozersk).

At night 19 May, a new patient was admitted to the Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Centre. The female Ladoga ringed seal had been delivered from Sortavala, Karelia. It weighed 6.6kg, had scars from birds’ beaks on its back and severe wounds on its hind flippers.

Patients of the Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Centre in 2015


On 8 June, the first three patients of the Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Centre in Repino, grey seals Number Five and Schanz, and the seal from the Vyborg Castle, were released into the Gulf of Finland. They found freedom on Kurgalskiy Peninsula. Photos of their release can be viewed here.

Rehabilitation season 2014

In 2014, due to an abnormal warm winter the rehabilitation season started earlier. On 14 March, the first patient – a female grey seal - was brought to the Pinnipedian Rehabilitation Centre. On March 15 and March 17, rehabilitation actions were organized for two grey seal pups – a newborn male and a female. On 20 March, one more patient – a male grey seal (it was very underweight) – was brought to the Pinnipedian Rehabilitation Centre. On 21 and 22 March, three new patients –two female grey seals and one male grey seal (all of them were very underweight) – were taken for rehabilitation. The eighth patient – the Baltic ringed seal – was brought to the center on 24 March.

On 25 March, three grey seal pups and one Baltic ringed seal were brought for rehabilitation.

On 26 March, one more baby seal was delivered to the Rehabilitation Station; it was found by workers of the Bronka port, which is under construction now. On 27 March, another patient arrived to the Centre – a Baltic ringed seal. On 28 March, a grey seal pup was delivered to the Centre, as well as a Baltic ringed seal - it was found on the dam in Kronstadt.  

During the weekends - 29-30 March – five grey seal pups were brought to Repino, and on 31 March –two more pups.

On 2 April, another two grey seal pups were delivered to the Rehabilitation Centre.  

On 4 April, a little female Baltic ringed seal was brought to be treated to the Rehabilitation Centre; it weighted only    7.2 kg.

On 15 April, a male Baltic ringed seal was brought to Repino. It became the twenty-eighth patient. The pup was found by Kronstadt navy sailors on one of the Central harbor (Srednyaya Gavan) piers.

On 28 April, a male Baltic grey seal was delivered to Repino. The pup was found on the gulf shore in Sosnovy Bor.

The first release of pinnipeds into the wild took place on May 3 in the Pinnipedian Rehabilitation Centre. The Baltic grey seal pup was released to the Gulf of Finland in Kurgalsky wildlife reserve. The second release to the wild was arranged on May 30 in the same place.  Two Baltic grey seal females were release into the wild: one of the seal females is named Aurora, the other has an unusual name – 34.

On 25 June the biggest release of the patients of Vodokanal’s Pinnipedian Rehabilitation Centre took place. Ten Baltic grey seals were released into the wild after successful treatment.  The names of the seal pups are Totleben,  Izhorik, Sestroretsk, Pogranichnik, Spasatel, the 22nd, Neva, Bjorke, Dudergofochka and Finemor. The name of Finemor was created as a result of a contest among Vodokanal employees. The voting determined the winner – the name of Finemor - that is the contracted form of the notion “The Gulf of Finland of the Baltic Sea”. This idea   had originated with Lisa Vinogradova, daughter of Vodokanal employee, who also participated in the releasing event.  The rehabilitated seal pups went into the Gulf of Finland, to the coast of Kurgalsky peninsula.  

On 1 July, one more patient of the Rehabilitation Centre (the fourteenth in succession) was released back into the wild. It is a female grey seal named Lebyazhka which was admitted for rehabilitation on 20 March.

On 10 July, the 5th release of seals after graduating from the Rehabilitation Centre happened. Eight grey seals (Kruzenstern, Vyborg (Viipuri), Rif, V-2, Bianli, Luga, Barabulka) went back into the wild.

On 13 July, 2014, the male Ladoga ringed seal  Mekörikkö VI  was released back into the wild in  the skerries area of the Ladoga Lake,  the Leningrad Region.   

On 16 July, the last release of the 2014 season took place. Six animals were freed on the island of the Gulf of Finland.  These are the last puppy Begemotik and five Baltic ringed seals: four females - Little Pirlipat, Little Hange, Sista and  Peypiya, and  only one male in this year - Kotlin.

Patients of the rehabilitation center in 2013

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When you find a baby seal, do the following:

Step 1.Do not disclose you presence and do not frighten the animal.

Step 2. Inform experts of the pinnipedian rehabilitation centre or emergency rescue service about the animal, tell them about its location and give a description of the animal. The Marine Mammal Rehabilitation Centre hotline: +7 (812) 699-23-99.

Step 3. If the animal has any open wounds, is exhausted or its limbs are in unnatural position, block the access to the open sea for it and take measures to protect it from birds or stray dogs.

Step 4. Wait for the arrival of rescuers.

Step 5. Do not feed the animal or give it any veterinary treatment.

Instruction for those who come across a pinniped

A place where pinnipeds are rehabilitated

The pinnipedian rehabilitation centre was set up in the administrative building of Repino wastewater treatment plant in the Kurortny District of St. Petersburg. It is not by chance that the rehabilitation centre is located there, - it is convenient for experts to get to the northern and southern coasts of the Gulf of Finland and to Lake Ladoga from there.

The rehabilitation centre has a feed station, isolation wards for newcomers, individual wards for stabilized patients and a water pond where baby seals can get used to water and learn to find food on their own.


More photos here


Vyacheslav Alekseev and Elena Alekseeva are the founders of the not-for-profit partnership Marine Mammal Rehabilitation Centre of the Leningrad Region: zoologists with a great experience, Russia’s only experts in marine mammals of our region. They have been engaged in the rehabilitation work since 2007. From then on they have released to the environment more than two dozen healthy seals.

Networking group MMRC
Hotline: 699-23-99

Pinnipeds of our region

The Baltic ringed seal

(Pusa hispida botnica) lives in the Gulf of Bothnia, Gulf of Riga and Gulf of Finland of the Baltic Sea. This group of animals lives solitary and do not contact each other. The population size of the local ringed seals in the Gulf of Finland accounts today for only 200 animals, which is at extremely low level (In 1970-ies and 1980-ies, about 4 thousand animals lived in the Gulf of Finland). The ringed seal pups are born in February-March and weight 4 kilos. A seal female nurses the baby on the ice in a specially made undersnow beds with a stable temperature inside. For proper nursing of the babies during 5 – 6 weeks a ringed seal female needs a stable ice and a 30-centemeter fall of snow. If a seal baby lies on the ice surface without shelter, it is threatened with predators, birds, stray dogs, precipitation and wind.


The Baltic grey seal

(Halichoerus grypus macrorhynchus). These animals travel over the Baltic Sea. It is assumed that 600 – 700 animals live all at the same time in the Russian part of the Gulf of Finland. The length of adults reaches 250 cm and the weight – 320 kg. Grey seals breed on the ice in the end of February and the first half of March. A newborn seal usually weights 10 – 15 kg. Within two weeks of nursing the baby’s weight increases up to 40 kg. Pups put on about 2 kilos in weight daily.


The Ladoga ringed seal

(Pusa hispida ladogensis) – endemial fresh-water subspecies of the ringed seal living only in the Ladoga Lake. The population size in the Ladoga Lake is 5000 - 8000 animals. The adult Ladoga ringed seal weights 60 - 70 kg, sometimes – up to 100 kg. Pups are born weighting 4 – 5 kg. Nursing of the pups happens in the same way as nursing of the Baltic ringed seal. Pups of the Ladoga ringed seal also need proper ice conditions.