AN unusually early seal rescue by the RSPCA has marked the beginning of the season for the animal welfare charity in a busy part of Wales.

In 2017/18, RSPCA officers in west and south west Wales rescued in excess of 100 seals, and are bracing themselves for another potentially busy period along the Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire coastline.

The first seal of the new season has now come into the charity’s care after the moulted pup was taken in by Welsh Marine Life Rescue, having being found on Abereiddy beach in Pembrokeshire on Monday July 30.

The pup was very nasally congested, and thin for her age. She has now been transferred by the RSPCA to specialist wildlife facilities at Taunton.

The seal has been affectionately named Aye-Aye, with the RSPCA's West Hatch Centre this season naming rescued seals after rare species of wildlife. Aye-Aye will now undergo a period of rehabilitation for a planned return to the wild at a later date.

In 2017/18, the first orphaned seal to arrive at the Taunton-based centre from Wales came on September 9.

RSPCA animal collection officer (ACO) Ellie West said: “Last year, we took more than 100 seals into our care in South West and West Wales - and Aye-Aye marks the first pup we have rescued for the 2018/19 season.

“The seal season usually starts in late September - so this is unusually early but we’re sure her rescue will be the first of many.”

ACO West reiterated the importance of people knowing what to do if they suspect a seal is in danger, adding: "It is the summer holidays - so we're conscious that people may be coming across seals on beaches.

“Should somebody find a seal pup that looks fit and healthy and shows no signs of distress, they should monitor it first from a safe distance for 24 hours.

“If the mother does not return within 24 hours, or you think that the pup is sick or injured please keep a safe distance and call our 24-hour emergency line on 0300 1234 999.”