British Divers Marine Life Rescue
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (photo: Steve Marsh)
British Divers Marine Rescue


2017-12-20 11:37:59

Seals airlifted to rehabilitation centre

All around the UK, seal rehabilitation centres are bursting at the seams with this year's intake of grey seal pups that's been in excess of recent years.  These have either been separated from their mothers by storms or string currents before being weaned, or are weaned but underweight, suffering from injury or disease.

On the east coast, the problem is exacerbated as some of the summer's intake of harbour seal pups are still in care, meaning that space is at a premium. Occasionally we need to move animals around to wherever we can find space.

In the North East, BDMLR works closely with Blue Reef in Tyneside and this year we've been welcomed back into their superb seal rehabilation unit. Our volunteers are also helping to care for the seal pups that are coming in to the hospital and with releases as well.  Last week, there was an overload of pups and knowing that the season was probably going to get busier, we needed to find a new home for two pups that had been taken in recently.

Scarborough Sea Life's hospital was full, as was the Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary in Lincolnshire and Hunstanton Sea Life and The RSPCA's East Winch wildlife hospital in Norfolk. East Winch had recently had some pups from the RSPCA Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Cheshire, so they suggested we try there.  Result!

Having checked and reserved the space, we then needed to find the best way to transport the pups quickly and with a minimum of stress.  Knowing that weekend traffic just before Christmas would be heavy and could seriously lengthen the journey time, we asked Graham Mountford, a good friend of BDMLR who has flown pups and equipment for us before in his light plane, if he could help.

Thankfully Graham was available and so he checked the weather, booked slots and on Saturday December 16th, the plan was put into action.

BDMLR volunteers Sandy Alden and Mark Wilson collected the two pups from Blue Reef and met Graham and his daughter Helen when they landed at Newcastle airport, having flown up from near Milton Keynes.

The pups were transferred to cages that fitted Graham's plane and around 45 minutes later, BDMLR volunteers and Assistant North West Coordinators Chris and Kristen Cureton met the plane at Liverpool Airport.

Having transferred the seals to their car, they then drove to Stapeley Grange where the pups will now receive care with the RSPCA. Latest reports are that both pups are doing well and one is already feeding on fish without assistance.

We'd like to thank everyone involved in this rare but essential operation: Graham for so generously agreeing to fly the pups, Helen for keeping an eye on them during the flight, the service teams at the airports, all at Blue Reef Tyneside (including our own seal team) and RSPCA Stapeley Grange and of course our volunteers Sandy, Mark, Chris and Kristen for their help on the day.  We'd also like to thank Julia, Richard, Teri and Stephen for their organisation prior to the transfers.