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


2007-06-25 15:36:45

Deadly seal virus returns to Europe


Following the reports that PDV (Phocine Distemper Virus) [1] has been reported in Denmark [2], BDMLR [3] has started to make contingency plans should the virus reach the UK seal colonies as it has done in the past outbreaks in 1988 and 2002.

BDMLR has a 'handling protocol' in place, which was drawn up during the last outbreak of PDV in 2002.

BDMLR has already made contact with a number of other organisations [4] which have previously been involved with the response and challenges required to deal with the results of the effects of the virus.

Tony Woodley, BDMLR's national press officer, said "British Divers Marine Life Rescue was formed during the first outbreak of this virus in 1988 and in 2002 our volunteers around the UK again helped the Common seals affected. Our veterinary advisers confirm that on both these previous occasions the virus took a number of weeks to reach the UK shores from the rest of Europe."

"BDMLR has contingency plans in place and we will be briefing our network of volunteers and have already started to communicate with other organisations within the M.A.R.C. [5] to ensure we are ready for when the virus reaches the UK", continued Tony.

The virus does not affect humans but members of the public are advised to keep dogs away from seals.


[1] Phocine Distemper Virus : The virus causes pneumonia and nervous system damage, including convulsions. Pregnant seals abort their pups. Other symptoms include listlessness and runny eyes and nose.

[2] Danish report

[3] British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) is proud of the fact that it is an entirely voluntary organisation (registered charity: 803438).

BDMLR was formed by a group of divers in 1988 in response to the deaths of a large number of seals, caused by PDV, in the Wash area of East Anglia. It is now a committed 24 hr rescue service. BDMLR now train over 300 Marine Mammal Medics a year and have 20 whale rescue pontoons located at strategic points throughout the UK waiting to help stranded whales and dolphins. There are over 3000 volunteers nation-wide.


[5] M.A.R.C. - Marine Animal Rescue Coalition