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


2006-02-24 15:05:38

Very Old Grey Seal In Sussex

BDMLR received a call about 11am from residents at the Cuckmere Haven, which is just east of Seaford in East Sussex, after a seal was spotted on the beach. Initially the report sounded just like a seal sunning itself but we decided to attended to be on the safe side.

On arrival Kevin Harlow and I could not see the seal, until we realised that the wooden log on the beach was actually a very large 6ft long adult seal - having only been use to finding pup on our local beaches!!!!

We were both amazed to find that it was an adult grey at that, which we have never been called to in our county. The seal was obviously in bad condition with a visible pelvis and neck line. The breathing seemed laboured and their was oil on part of its belly and back.

Photos were taken and emailed to Alan Knight and James Barnett for their opinion. BDMLR trainned vet Bronwen Eastwood from Brighton was called and attended on site and jointly the decision was taken to euthanse the seal.

BDMLR Medics Paul Chippenden and David Clark joined us on the beach along with East Sussex Wildlife Rescue medics Shirley Clark and Bill Pike. Boards were used to prevent the seal from moving forward whilst I jumped for the seals neck and Kevin for the seals rear. We used a blanket to hold the head down and I had to use all my (rather larger than I would like to be) weight to hold the neck and head.

Although the animal initially put up a struggle it was short lived and gave in very quickly. Bronwin was able to take a spinal blood sample and then euthanase the seal very quickly and professionally.

We were then able to have a closer look at the seals condition. It turned out to be a male grey seal. It has some form a skin condition round its neck with cracking sores. The poor creatures teeth were very well worn and obviously very old. Its head was massive.

We were all dissappointed that we could do anything for this mature seal but felt relieved that it was no longer suffering and wasn't going to spent the next few days slowly dying.

After several hours of waiting for the local council not to turn up, we ended up arranging for contractors to removed the body from the beach and the council to pay for it. Eventually we got back to the office about 5.30pm.

Trevor Weeks
BDMLR National Coordinator

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