AFTER 17 years of helping rescue and rehabilitate stranded seals, Milford Haven’s seal hospital has closed.

What began as a temporary base inside an old blue storage tank turned into an established seal sanctuary, with co-ordinator Terry Leadbetter and his team treating hundreds of ill, injured or abandoned animals over the years.

But the rising costs of fuel, fish and vets fees have meant the hospital is now just too much work for 68-year-old Terry, his wife Ann, and their team of volunteers.

Last year, the charity spent around £3,000 on fish to feed its patients, with an average pup consuming anything up to 150 mackerel a day.

Terry said he was very sad to see the sanctuary closing, as he had hoped to find someone to take it over before he retired.

“We’ve gathered a tremendous amount of knowledge over the years, and with us packing up, that knowledge will be lost.”

But, he said the last 17 years had been “time definitely well-spent”.

“We’ve had a very good success rate,” said Terry.

“It’s been a unique experience, and I’ve felt privileged to have dealt with these special animals.”

Terry says his commitment these “remarkable, intelligent creatures” is what has kept him involved over the years, and he will still be keeping eye on the coastline through his charity Welsh Marine Life Rescue.