A volunteer feeds a gray seal pup a herring at a seal-rehabilitation center in the Netherlands on January 12.
More than a hundred of the young marine mammals have washed up along the country's northern coastline following recent storms, according to the Agence France-Presse news service.
The incident is an extreme example among a recent increase in pup strandings, experts say. Overfishing has reduced the seals' available prey, and the polluted fish the animals do catch often make them sick.
"In the last two or three years we have seen more and more seals wash up too weak to look after themselves," Lenie 't Hart, director of the Zeehondencrèche seal nursery, told AFP.
Inundated with seals, the Zeehondencrèche facility was forced to erect a temporary tent with bathtubs and swimming pools to house their furry patients.
Each new arrival is washed, given fluids, and then fed a "porridge" of ground herring and water, the AFP reported. Volunteers put medication in the herring—as seen above on January 12—to speed up the animals' recovery.
Most of the nursery's rescued seals are healthy enough to be released into the Wadden Sea or North Sea within three months, according to the news agency.
As of January 18, the U.K. center was caring for 41 rescued seals also affected by the European storms, according to the newspaper Newmarket Journal.
"It is very unfortunate timing, as the winds and rough seas came at the exact point in the year when [baby] grey seals are left to fend for themselves and make their own way into the water," facility manager Alison Charles told the Journal.
(See pictures: "Seals, Sea Lions, Satellites Help Map Ocean.")
Photograph by Matt Cardy, Getty Images
A volunteer gives a seal pup a herring while others watch on January 12. In the wild, the most vulnerable pups are those less than a year old, the AFP reported.
"These pups eat small fish, but even in protected areas, they cannot find food, because there are no more small fish left," Zeehondencrèche director 't Hart told the news agency.