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


2007-02-18 14:06:29

Seal pup call, Bridlington

Sunday 18th February 14.30hrs. I received a call from Jason Carter informing me of a seal on the beach at Bridlington, below the spa. I had just received a call from the Maritime & Coastguard Agency [MCA] about the same seal. An MCA officer had been out to look, and said the pup was healthy but he was concerned about the amount of MOP's with children & dogs around it. I contacted Tracy Guild who said she was available to take a look and she contacted Gary Bolton MMM. As there was no initial response from Gary [he was driving out of area], Tracy called back to ask if I was available to accompany her. Ryan, my son, also offered his services so we set of to Bridlington together.

When we arrived, the promenade was heaving with 'cumfots' enjoying the sunshine and the beach. We quickly pin pointed where the pup was due to the large crowd which had gathered. The pup was against the sea wall with the tide coming in and not a lot of beach left. There were 2 beach wardens guarding the pup from dogs and people, goodness knows what would have happened if they hadn't been there.

The pup was a fat healthy, male grey seal whose main aim was to have a rest. Ryan quickly caught the pup and Tracy went to move the car closer to us, as I had decided it needed to be relocated for its own safety. Ryan and I got the pup into the seal bag and took it to the car. We transferred the pup to the vari-kennel and took it down the coast to Fraisthorpe, where we released him.

On our way back to Scarborough, at 16.30hrs, I received another call from Jason. He asked where were we and how long would it take us to get to Ruswarp near Whitby. We thought we had had an easy afternoon! Jason had received a call from RSPCA ACO, Alan Farr, informing us of a seal in the field adjacent to the river Esk. The first informant had said she had seen a seal in the middle of a flooded field, and had thought it had half a front flipper missing. She said there didn't appear to be any blood loss. We were about 45mins away and racing the receding light. We got to the area to find several fields flooded and, with the help of Debbie's first informant over the phone, we pin pointed where she had seen the pup. Even at that time of day, the area was still busy with people and dogs. We searched the river banks and fields until we could no longer see, but didn't see any sign of the seal. I can only presume that the pup had been resting and had tucked his flip up, as they often do. We haven't had any more reports of the seal to date.

On our return home, at 18.40hrs, I called Jason to tell him what we knew. He joked that he wouldn't call again for a couple of hours. However, 20mins later he called back to tell me that there was another seal at Bridlington. It was in spitting distance to where we had lifted the seal from earlier in the afternoon, the harbour slipway. I called Gerrard, the harbour warden, and he offered to go and check the seal for me. He phoned back 15 mins later to say the pup was fat & feisty and hauled out to have a rest. He had moved the public on after explaining that the pup was healthy. Gerrard said he would check it again before he went off shift, and I arranged to call the next day to see if it was still there. I spoke to Andy, another harbour warden, at 09.00hrs. The pup had left on the high tide during the night.

Thank you to Tracy Guild, for being my chauffeur for the day. Thanks to Ryan for his excellent assessment of the first pup and helping with the search. Thanks to Brid Harbour wardens Gerrard, Andy & the beach wardens [sorry I didn't get your names].

Sunday [again!] 25th Feb 15.50hrs.

Tracy had come around for a social chat and we had just discussed that we had done well, not getting called out. We were having a final cup of coffee before Tracy was heading home when she received a call from Tony Woodley. It was to inform her of a seal pup possibly injured on the beach at South Landing, Flamborough. Tony said the first informant [Mr Jones] had concerns for the pup, who appeared to have injuries to its back. Tracy told Tony where she was and told him we'd both be responding and off we went again, for another Sunday jaunt!

We called Ryan [who was out socialising] and picked him up en route. We arrived at Flamborough at approx 16.30hrs [Sunday drivers!!] and found the pup after about 10 mins half a mile up the beach. Tracy had noted, from a distance, that it had difficulties breathing and monitored its breathing rate before we disturbed it. BPM 21, continuous breathing. Ryan caught the pup whilst I was getting the necessary equipment out of my back pack. When he 'jumped' the pup she was lively, but because of her breathing problems he wasn't firm enough with his handling being worried that he'd hurt her.

I had just started examining the back of the pup when Ryan started getting concerned. The pup was breath holding and struggling to get away. So, he let go! After I got over the initial shock, I quickly caught the pup, examined her and with help put her in the seal bag. The pup was a this-seasons grey seal, female, approx 28 kg, normal temperature but she was really struggling to breathe. Tracy and Ryan carried the pup back to the car where I took her out of the seal bag to examine some bleeding areas on her back. They looked like dog bites and scratches. I also washed her eyes and nose as they were caked in dried mucus and sand, and wiped her face [Making her more comfortable for the journey].

I spoke to Alan Stewart and asked him to contact James Barnett for advice. My dilemma was, the pup was well weighted, no temperature, quite active but not aggressive, but with a continuous BPM of up to 26. Whilst we were waiting for a call back, we put the pup in the vari-kennel and she started coughing & sneezing brown blood stained mucus. Advice taken, we set off to Scarborough Sealife Centre. We arrived at 18.00hrs and everyone except for Helen [who was expecting us] had gone home.

We got the pup into the hospital and stayed to assist Helen as the pup was a bit larger than the pups of late, and not easy to handle. The pup weighed in excess of 25kg [the pup scale only goes up to 25kg and it went off that], a slightly elevated temperature 38.4, BPM 18-26 continuous and a lump the size of a small Satsuma at the base of her back above her tail. We were unsure of whether it was an old injury or an abscess, but it was very hard. She was given the necessary medicines by Helen and tubed [no easy task].

We left the pup, now named Cough Candy, to settle down alongside our other recent pup Treacle. Treacle has already had one course of antibiotics for his facial swelling, which haven't worked. He's now on a different sort and is stable and very vocal at the moment.

Thanks as always to Tracy & Ryan, Alan Stewart for his support, James for his advice and Helen for accommodating our pup.

So until the same time next Sunday!!! Bye for now,

Bev Drayton
Assistant coordinator Yorkshire and Humber