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


2007-01-23 13:18:09

Report on Seal Pup rescue, Hornsea

Got a text from Alan at around 13.30 asking if I could attend seal pup reported to have had a head injury at Hornsea beach. On arrival at the beach I met a couple who directed me to a seal near steps to the beach. ‘Great’ that’s a bonus I thought. After a quick assessment I could see no head injury which I thought odd, until another member of the public, Keith (the man who originally reported it) advised me of a second pup around a mile further along. I was joined on the beach by Freddie and Diane shortly afterwards with a seal bag. After speaking to Alan we decided to concentrate on the injured pup. So off we marched in pursuit of Keith to where the injured pup lay.

He looked in a bad way, an injury to the left side of his head and right eye. We put the seal into the bag with the tide fast coming in, so Freddie nicknamed him 'Minutes to spare'. Later he was renamed Liquorice by the staff at Scarborough sea Life centre. On our way back to the car, we came across a puffin obviously in some distress so the Sea Life Centre asked us to bring that in too, he was named ‘By The Way’ by Freddie.

Before setting off we checked on the first seal and were advised it would be monitored over the next 24 hours or so.

We set off for Scarborough, the puffin sat on my knee, Freddie driving and the seal in the back. On arrival at Scarborough we were met by the staff who took charge of Liquorice. He weighed approx 14 kg and was thought to have lung worm and internal bleeding, but Derek at the centre said he hoped he would make a full recovery as he was quite feisty.

The RSPCA lady examined the puffin and decided it was ok. When Freddie asked what would happen to it, she replied ‘I will take it to Bempton and throw it off the cliffs into the thermal air currents’. We couldn’t believe this after nursing it for 50 miles in the car!!!

Tuesday 23rd January

I had just got in from work and was discussing the previous days events with my wife – Sallie -, when a text came in asking for someone to attend the seal pup from the day before at Hornsea and take it to Scarborough.

As Sallie was off work I asked her if she would like to come for the ride. She offered to answer my phone on route to Hornsea whilst I was driving – A big thanks to her for that-. On the way we were informed by Alan that Scarborough could not take the pup as it was full.

On arriving at Hornsea we located the pup – it hadn’t moved far from yesterday and looked considerably weaker – and stayed with it until Freddie arrived with the seal bag shortly afterwards. After putting the pup in the seal bag (without much protest from her) we were asked if we would take her to Swanbridge vets in Swanland. Sallie and I set off there, and on arrival were looked after by the staff – hot cup of coffee – whilst Sheila (named by Sallie and later renamed at East Winch Wildlife Centre Norfolk as Blow Torch) was given a much needed feed, as she weighed only 16.1kg.

Sue from HQ was in touch with us and asked if we could take the pup to Holdingham near Sleaford, where we would meet Russell and he would take her the rest of the journey to East Winch. This all went very smoothly and we met Russell as planned. Later that night Russell informed us that they had arrived safely and Blow Torch was doing well.

Sallie and I decided, after checking with the Sea Life Centre to visit Liquorice on Wednesday as he was my first seal pup rescue. They informed us he was doing fine and was expected to be there for a couple of months before being released after making a full recovery.

I spoke to Sue at HQ today about Blow Torch and was told she too was doing fine and also expected to make a full recovery.

Ian Shields
Marine Mammal Medic