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


2007-08-29 17:13:48

Seal pup rescue - North Yorkshire

At approximately 12.05hrs Wednesday 29th August I received a call from a lady, Margaret Hurd, advising me of a seal pup on the beach at Hunmanby Gap, Filey Bay, N. Yorkshire. Margaret told me the pup appeared to be favouring one side when it moved about. I asked her if there were any visible injuries to the pup, and she said she hadn’t got that close [very sensible]. I explained to Margaret about normal seal behaviour feeling that this would be a routine call, I assured her that I would send a medic out as soon as possible.

I then called Bruce Pawson MMM who lives 5 mins away from the pup. He was due to leave for work at 13.00hrs, but kindly agreed to go and take a look for me. It’s at this point I should say at the moment I have a broken little toe and am unable to drive myself, or I would have gone to this pup myself.

Shortly after I had spoken to Bruce, Ryan took another call from Margaret to say she had been and had a closer look at the pup and it had fine netting wrapped around the top half of it’s body, and an 'official looking' man was walking toward the pup [that'll be Bruce then!]. Ry quickly called Bruce and updated him so he could get his kit ready.

The next call we received was from Bruce saying the pup had deep wounds on both shoulders as a result of the monofilament netting being embedded. He had cut off the netting but the pup needed veterinary treatment. As Bruce had to get to work he agreed to lift the pup and bring it to my house which is on the way. We have been so busy in our area that we were down to 1 vari kennel for transporting seal pups. MMM Gary Bolton had picked up the last remaining kennel from another medics house a few days before, so I gave him a call and asked if there was any chance of him dropping it off. He agreed to do so in his lunch break.

Bruce dually arrived with the pup and as Gary hadn’t arrived by then, I used my dogs indoor kennel as a tempory measure to put the pup in. The pup was flat and there was considerable heat coming from it. Ryan wet a towel for the pup top rest on and we covered the rear flips to try and get the temperature down. When Gary arrived we transferred the pup to the kennel and Simon offered to take us to Swanzdale Veterinary Care Centre, in his lunch hour. I didn’t bother temping the pup as it was obvious it had a temperature and to do so would have stressed it out more. We agreed the best thing would be to get it to the vets asap and do everything there.

Sue White had phoned ahead and warned the staff of our imminent arrival so they were an hand to help as soon as we were dropped off. We weighed the pup, approx 13.5kgs, then took it to the treatment room. [We weigh the pups in the vari kennels and subtract the weight of the kennel, so that it’s less handling for the pup.]

We got the pup out of the kennel once Jim [the vet] was ready for him and examined it’s wounds. They were full thickness of the blubber on the right shoulder and through the muscle layer too on the left shoulder. We examined the rest of him and he had a very swollen face with blood around it. There was no obvious injury but his breath was atrocious. He had some superficial wounds to both fore and rear flippers. We took his temperature 40 [104], [dangerously high]. I told Jim we would need the pup [a male] tubing in addition to any other treatment he gave. Jim spoke to James Barnett for advice as this was only the surgery’s 2nd pup and Jim’s 1st. After speaking to James, Jim gave the pup a shot of rimadyl and synalox and 250ml lectade. James had advised that the pup be allowed to rest for an hour after treatment to see if his temperature would come down. We left the pup in Jim and Sammy’s [vet nurse] capable hands, and Simon came back to collect us. On the way home I got a call from MMM Paul Reaney-Sygrove to say he was nearly at Scarborough with Jez Wallis MMM to take the pup to East Winch! Dilemma! Did I send them home to Hull or ask them to come to my home to await the vets decision to see if the pup was fit to travel in an hour? I opted for the second option and when I got home plied them with tea & coffee and kept my fingers crossed.

I spoke to the surgery an hour later but the vet was with the pup. He called me back 15mins later to say the pups temp had come down to 37.8 [100 F] a more manageable level, and was ready for transfer. Paul & Jez set off to collect the pup, armed with 2 milk cartons full of fresh water and a spray bottle to keep the pup cool on its journey south.

Shortly after they had left, I did some calculations and figured the pup would be due some more fluids by the time it reached Hull [4hrly]. I called Sue White to advise her, and suggested the pup call in at Swanbridge Veterinary Hospital on route. Sue did all the necessary arrangements and Paul and Jez took him in.

I received a call from Paul at 21.45hrs to say he and Jez had just handed the pup over to Russell New for the last leg of the journey to East Winch.

Once again the team had pulled together to ensure this pup had the best chance at survival with our friends at East Winch.

My grateful thanks to Ryan for helping coordinate and handling the seal [due to by injured toe], to Sue White our unsung hero in the office, to Simon for ferrying us about, to Paul, Jez and Russell for transporting the seal and to both veterinary practices for their continued support. Lastly a huge thanks to staff at East Winch for staying open to admit this pup and for the excellent care they give.

Bev Drayton
Coordinator Yorkshire