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


2007-08-02 16:29:00

Seal rescue - Mappleton, East Yorkshire

The seal later to be named Tilney was found on the beach at Mappleton, East Yorkshire, early in the morning by a vet who was walking his dog on this very popular dog-walking beach. As he just happened to be a vet from the practice that deals with our casualties, he fortunately knew something about seals and, seeing that it was very flat and covered with flies, realised that it needed bringing in and so arrived at work that morning with their first patient of the day.

Which is where I came in. Later that morning I received a call from Sue at HQ asking if I was available for the transport relay down to the RSPCA Hospital at East Winch. I arranged to borrow a crate to transport him in, contacted Russell with an e.t.a for Holdingham Roundabout at Sleaford, where the exchange would take place, and set off for the vet's.

It's just as well I got the puncture before I picked the seal up – it was a hot day and I’d hate to have had a poor sick seal in a broken-down car! – but eventually I was back on the road again and arrived at the vet’s surgery somewhat later than planned. When I saw the seal – a small, pale-coloured Common Seal pup – I was immediately concerned as he showed absolutely no interest and made little resistance to being picked up and placed in the travelling crate.

The journey as far as Lincoln was uneventful until I reached the city – and major roadworks! I only know one route to Holdingham and my TomTom didn’t offer any alternatives so I just had to sit there, air-con on, and crawl my way slowly south. I should point out that the seal was very ill and had the most appalling diarrhoea and the smell inside my car was indescribable! I met up with Russell as pre-arranged at the garage at Holdingham roundabout. By this time the seal was obviously very sick indeed and again made no attempt to resist transfer from one cage to another for transport on to East Winch. Russell continued on south and I set off back home.

He later contacted me to say that the seal had been delivered safely and was running a temperature and on a drip. That weekend he contacted me again to say that Tilney had taken a turn for the worse, developing haemorrhagic diarrhoea and severe vomiting, his temperature had crashed off the bottom end of the thermometer scale and couldn’t be raised, despite a warm drip and heat lamp and the decision had been taken to euthanise him on humane grounds. The post-mortem revealed severe pneumonia and haemorrhagic enteritis.

It's always sad to lose one but this little one had suffered enough and hopefully what has been learned from him will go on to help other seals.

My most grateful thanks to the vets and staff at the Swanbridge Veterinary Hospital, to Russell, and to the staff at East Winch, for all their dedicated care and commitment to our cause.

Dianne Davies
BDMLR Medic, Yorkshire and Humber