The Seal Sanctuary in Hel

The Seal Sanctuary of the Sea Station of the Oceanography Institute of the University of Gdańsk is a seal sanctuary located in Hel at Bulwar Nadmorski.

The seal sanctuary consists of a complex of three breeding pools, several isolation pools (dedicated for young and sick individuals that require therapy) and an educational-laboratory building with a seminary room and laboratories. The seal sanctuary conducts scientific business, which is aimed at recreating the colony of the grey seal in the southern Baltic Sea.

The seal sanctuary is a great tourist attraction in Hel – in the late 20th and early 21st centuryit was visited by approximately 300 000 visitors each year. It is maintained from charity donations, Union subsidies and donations from the University of Gdańsk, as well as from the money made from selling tickets and souvenirs.

Although the seal sanctuary is a nice place to visit, it has a tragic history surrounding it. It is the story about Krystyna the seal. Born in April of 1998, she spent around 3 years at the sanctuary in Hel. She was well known for trying to escape and wander around the streets of Hel, where she was found 50 meters away frrom the seal sanctuary. Krystyna the Seal loved making contact with humans, she enjoyed finding objects lost by tourists during their visits in the seal sanctuary. She died in may of 2001. The necropsy shown a shocking discovery – nearly 700 coins were found in her stomach. The reason of her death was the poisoning with heavy metals released through digestion of money. The coins that were found in her stomach, weighed 1,5 kilograms in total. According to the workers of the seal sanctuary, the coins were thrown into the pool by tourists. This event led to certain changes in the seal sanctuary, which included placing information board warning visitors from mindless behavior.

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