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


2007-03-19 14:26:07

Seal Rescue - Rosehearty, Scotland

At 0940 this morning I received a text from Angi Long (BDMLR Buchan Medic) to say that she had been contacted by a member of the public who was concerned about a stranded seal. The seal had been in the same place for the past few days and was looking very 'weak'. It was nearby the picnic area and not very responsive.

Andy Ireland (BDMLR Buchan Coordinator) was going to respond to this seal and also asked a few other medics if they wanted to come along to assist and gain some experience. Linsey McKeown (BDMLR Buchan Medic) replied that she was available to help so a rendezvous location and time was set and we both prepared to brave the storms.

At 1100 we met up at the picnic site and got in touch with the member of public to try and establish exactly where the seal was. The seal was found up at the top of a small but steep cliff in the picnic area and was trying to shelter from the rough sea that was rolling in. Linsey was about to give the 'jump a seal' thing a go that she had just learned on her medic course only 48 hours before. The seal must have known he could try his luck and headed off down the cliff at a rate of knots - just as Jamie described on the course. Andy managed to jump the seal whilst Linsey grabbed the seal tank and then we both lifted him in to the tank and carry him back up top for a full examination.

He appeared to be a young male, very feisty and not malnourished. Linsey took his temperature which was 37.8 and she also treated his minor cuts and wounds with tetracycline spray. On route we had booked a pen for him with Lawrence should it be required but he was one of those cases that fell in to the unsure category. He had been out of the water for sometime and the only food available to him was some gravy bones that someone had left for him, strangely enough he hadn't touched them! With the sea as rough as it was and feeding being an issue for him then that made us concerned to leave him. He was also in a popular area for dog walkers which was a major concern. Despite all of the above, he was healthy, possibly slightly dehydrated due to lack of food but still putting up a fight.

We consulted Sue White (BDMLR HQ) and Tony Woodley (BDMLR Director), sending them a few pictures for their opinion as to what we should do. They agreed that the pup was fine and could be left but moving to a quieter location would be the ideal solution.

We loaded up our kit and placed the seal in to the car with the idea of taking him to Sandhaven harbour which is sheltered but large enough for him to get in and have a hunt for some food. On arrival at Sandhaven the conditions were worsening with a large swell entering into the harbour, hail falling from the sky in sheets and the temperature was well below 0 if you take into consideration the wind chill. Linsey contacted a friend who stayed south of Peterhead and they relayed some images and video footage via their mobile to her of a potential release location, but the bay south of Peterhead that we had in mind was just as rough. Our final location to try was Cairnbulg so we headed off in the hope that it would be better.

On arrival we were glad to find a nicely sheltered harbour which was ideal for the release. The east wall of the harbour was providing a small area of beach where our seal would be out of the wind, driving rain and snow. Before release we decided to tube him. This procedure proved harder than ever before, he was wriggling around and flipping on his back. Whenever we got hold of him he would slither out of our grip and try to turn on us. Eventually we managed to gain complete control of him and administered 250mls of Lectade. This seal has been named ‘Kaa’ after the snake in jungle book due to his wriggling and slippery performance whilst following our Disney characters theme.

Kaa was then placed back in the tank, carried down to the beach and released. He made a dash for the water and enjoyed swimming around in the harbour for a short while before heading out in to the rough swell. Hopefully our pup will return to the harbour to rest up should he need a rest. Linsey and I stayed by the beach for a little while to watch for him but no sign. Andy returned at 1800 to check if Kaa had returned but no sign of him. The team will be keeping a close eye on the beaches local to his release site.

Thanks to member of the public for reporting the pup, Angi Long (BDMLR Buchan Medic) Andy Ireland (BDMLR Buchan Coordinator), Linsey McKeown (BDMLR Buchan Medic), Lawrence Brain (Grampian Wildlife Trust), Sue White (BDMLR HQ) and Tony Woodley (BDMLR Director).

Andy Ireland
Buchan Regional Coordinator
British Divers Marine Life Rescue