About the Centre

The Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Centre opened after reconstruction at Vodokanal’s treatment plant in Repino on 5 September 2014. It has no analogs in Russia.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by the Acting Governor of St. Petersburg G.S. Poltavchenko. Photos of the ceremony can be viewed here.

Three blocks of the Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Centre can admit up to 40 animals at a time.

A quarantine block with individual airtight isolation wards where marine mammals can be kept in quarantine, has been built for new arrivals. The block has rooms for different purposes in compliance with the existing veterinary rules. According to the rules, the patients must be kept in isolation for one month: during that time, they are tested for agents of disease and treated, if necessary. For this purpose, animals are placed in isolation wards with individual swimming pools, plenum-exhaust ventilation and heating devices to warm up debilitated seal pups. Moreover, disinfection mats and tinctures, as well as special disinfection lamps will be used to maintain hygiene and sanitary conditions.

The access to the animals will only be allowed through a special room, sanitary lock, where the Centre staff change into their work clothing. The clothes are also disinfected in special cabinets. Conceptually, the quarantine block is divided into two parts: two feed processing rooms, two examination rooms, and isolation wards located so that animals can be kept separately from each other. Such separation is necessary to keep apart animals from different water bodies: Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga.

The diagnostic laboratory is also located here. Animals are often admitted with different traumas, injuries or other health problems. With the advanced diagnostic equipment in place, specialists can promptly reveal a disease and prescribe proper treatment.

After the animals recover and put on enough weight, they will be transferred to a physical rehabilitation room in the second block. The ringed and grey seals that have gained enough strength are rehabilitated there. They are kept at outdoor temperature, eat fish on their own, regain physical activity, adapt gradually to the life in cold water and learn to hunt live fish.

The third block contains adaptation cages. The animals get prepared to the release into the wild there. Seals usually attach themselves to humans during 1.5-2 months of rehabilitation which is undesirable: a wild animal must remain wild. It is for this reason that, practically, no people come in sight of the seals at the adaptation site. The animals stay in water most of the time, however, they can lie “on the shore” if they want to. They are given fish from behind a screen - for them not to associate the coming food with humans.

Moreover, the Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Centre now has a base for field studies of mammals in North-West Russia. The main focus will be on the research and restoration of the Baltic ringed seal population in the Gulf of Finland. It is here that the equipment required for such studies is kept. A drone with a camera is used to watch animals in haul-outs; moreover, binoculars, a spyglass, a photocamera, trail cameras, etc. are available.