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


2006-03-11 11:05:32

Seal pup rescue from Ulrome, Yorkshire

I received a call from Sue at approximately 15.45hrs whilst I was away from the computer [typical], and made my way home to coordinate rescue efforts for the grey seal pup. The call from Sue was quiet alarming, my 'knee jerk' diagnosis was that the pup was having some sort of fit due to having ingested something. Knowing that Alan was a 'virgin' medic, my concern was that he would be on an adrenalin high, so not have considered the possible outcome of rescuing a very poorly seal. I felt it necessary to forewarn him of the possibilities. Sue had already got Neil Wray mobilised and he was about 20mins behind Alan in heavy traffic. I called the first informant to get 'sit rep' on the seal, and was again told that the pup had green foam coming from its mouth and was ‘thrashing about’. You can imagine what was going through my mind. To add to my concerns, I was told that an individual known to be licensed to shoot seals near fishing nets, had made threats to harm the seal. Simon was due to go to work, about 10mins from where the rescue was taking place, so he made the decision to go early so he could see the animal himself and find out more about the situation.

Once on scene he caught the seal, a 'this year's grey' and thoroughly examined 'Him'. By chance, several photos were taken for training purposes [our thanks to Neil]. The seal had no sign of any discharge from any facial orifice, nor had he any injury. It transpired that the member of the public had wanted him relocated due to the threat made to it. As this is an ongoing problem in that area and practically impossible to remove every seal that hauls out due to logistics, we made the decision to leave him in situ and monitor him over the next 72hrs. He was well away from any 'dog walking threat' and not easily visible to the public who may get near enough. Simon let it be known locally that medics would be observing the seal with the hope that it would be a deterrent to anyone with thoughts of harming him. They left the animal with trepidation.

On Saturday morning we received a call from Keira an RSPCA ACO. She told us she had just been called to a seal with a possible gun shot wound to the head. We asked her where the seal was located, and it was approximately 500yrds from the seal pup that was being monitored. At that point she didn't know whether it was still alive. We kept in contact and asked her to transport it to our vet in Bridlington and arranged to meet her there. Whilst enroute to the vet, Keira called to say it was a young grey male and he was still alive though he had a head injury.

It didn't look like a gun shot wound. With heavy hearts we arrived at the vets, and examined and photographed him. He had a very nasty eye injury and his temperature was 102 and he was very poorly. We were as certain as we could be that this was the same animal as the night before. I asked the vet in her opinion, how the injury had occurred. Whilst being loath to commit herself without x-rays, she did say she believed it to be some form of blow to the head. The seal was given the usual injections, transferred to a vary kennel and after making calls to East Winch seal hospital (RSPCA), began his 6hr journey.

I informed East Winch off the history of this seal and await further information from their vet as to how the injury may have occurred. Unfortunately the seal is too poorly to operate on as yet, though he has had his eye lanced to relieve the pressure. The vet has said that he will have to remove the right eye when he is well enough. Hopefully we will then have a clearer picture as to what caused the injury.

I will update everyone as soon as I have any news as to the seals progress.

Beverley Drayton
North East Area Coordinator

Friday 10th March 2006

Received a call from Sue at HQ at 16:05 hrs asking to attend a seal found on the beach on the East Riding coast with apparent green foam coming from its mouth and fitting.

Once over the shock and being totally unprepared (having completed my training just two weeks prior) I attended the site at around 17.10 hrs - via a trip home to pick up anything I could think of - to find a rather plump 3ft common seal with no obvious signs of injury or illness, although the gentlemen who found it (who were still at the scene) maintained the foaming and fitting were occurring prior to my arrival. After various texts/phone calls to Area Coordinator Bev Drayton with my best diagnosis, I was joined on the beach by experienced Medic Neil at around 17:30 hrs who examined the seal thoroughly and determined it was healthy and perhaps 6 weeks of age as it still had a fair amount of down fur. He said it had probably spent a couple of days in the surf and had just dragged itself up to the top of the beach to rest, awaiting the next high tide.

Neil made a call to Area Coordinator Simon Drayton who said he would also attend as was a short distance away. On arrival he concurred that it was indeed a very (plump!) healthy seal. All agreed to leave it where it was.

Many thanks to Bev for her advice and keeping me sane(ish!) on my first shout and to Neil and Simon for your expertise and guidance on site, which incidentally was one of the coldest places I’ve ever been!!

Alan Stewart
MMMedic - North East