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


2007-01-15 12:49:47

Grey pup is rescued then dies, Scotland

I was out walking by Seagreens Beach yesterday (Johnshaven), when I came across a seal pup above the high tide mark resting on the pebbles. It saw us, me and the dogs, before I saw it. The dogs were unaware of it. I gathered them (the dogs) together and tied them up whilst I went back to check the seal pup. It had already arched its rear flippers and back and coughed at me. It appeared to be quite bright eyed and alert but thin about the shoulders and pelvic region.However I did notice that its breathing was probably rather laboured. It was quite difficult to hear over the noise of the wind and the roaring sea. I left it at its location at 1pm.

When I returned home I phoned Volunteer Sue Horne and Medic Paul Horne, 1.45pm, to see if they could give a second opinion and we arranged to meet at 4pm at Seagreens after we had both met our committments. During this time our area Co-ordinator Elaine Roft had been informed of our intentions by Volunteer Sue Horne.During this time, Elaine had provisionally booked a seal pen at SSPCA Middlebank and arranged a relay (with teams on standby) Tayforth Co-ordinator Allan Muir and Edinburgh Co-ordinator Nick Moore. An E.T.A would be confirmed to SSPCA staff once the pup had been confirmed as being uplifted and a rehab candidate.

I got back to the location at 4.15pm and Medic Paul Horne had already been down to check that the pup was still there. By now the light was fading and the winds were gale force. We headed along the narrow, muddy,pebbly track to the pup. It hadnt moved since lunchtime. We decided to just uplift it. No respirations were taken or any other health checks performed.

The weather was too wild and there was no light to perform such. It was quite a challenge getting the pup into the tank as both towel and tank were being caught by the wind and taking. The pup being feisty bit my arm, which went through coat, fleece, heavy jumper and shirt to bruise my arm! Once in the tank we held a towel tight over the top to calm it down and to prevent it jumping up which it initially tried to do. Then we headed back to the van and was home in Johnshaven by 4.40.

We set off from Hillside (Sue and Pauls House) at 5.30pm to meet Alan at Arbroath at 6pm. The pup was still alive at the handover. Sue confirmed to Elaine that we were on the road South so Elaine could confirm to SSPCA that the pup was indeed being admitted to rehab.

Rebecca Chambers
Marine Mammal Medic
Montrose / Arbroath Area

15th January 2007

I picked up the pup from Paul and Rebecca at Arbroath at 6.00pm. The pup appeared fiesty and active, but its breathing was very laboured and rasping.

The journey was uneventful.. I stopped at Kinross service station to notify SSPCA Middlebank of my impending arrival. The pup was still alive at this point although its breathing was still laboured.

Upon arrival at Middlebank, the pup was found to be dead. It must have died within the last 5 /10 minutes of the journey. I left the pup at Middlebank for a post-mortem and informed Elaine Roft. (results to follow).

Allan Muir
Marine Mammal Medic
Tayforth Area Co-ordinator


16.01.07 Post Mortem was carried out by Romaine Pizzi (Vet for SSPCA).

Romain Pizzi
Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons recognised specialist in Zoo & Wildlife Medicine

16.01.07 I was notified promptly by return that the male grey pup named "Jan" died from severe enteritis. A bit of an unusual case compared with other grey seals Romain informed me.

Elaine Roft
Marine Mammal Medic
Montrose / Arbroath Area Co-ordinator

Many thanks to Medics Rebecca Chambers, Paul Horne, ( uplift), Elaine Roft (Area Co-ordinator), Volunteer Sue Horne (Montrose), Allan Muir (Tayforth Co-ordinator), SSPCA Middlebank, Romain Pizzi (Vet). Thanks also to Nick Moore (Edinburgh Co-ordinator)