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


2006-05-06 15:34:00

Grey Seal rescue, Tunstall Sands, Humberside

Received a call from Bev Drayton (NE Area Coordinator) mid afternoon to ask if I could attend a seal hauled up on the beach. Babysitting duties unfortunately prevented me from doing so. Must admit I was less than happy that I couldn't attend.

Received a second call at 17:00 hrs from Bev to say she's been forced to send out someone who was yet to attend their medic course and was reporting the seal as having an injury on its left rear side, which may require transportation. Luckily I was able to attend (with the help of mum for baby sitting duties ).

Arrived on site to find George (medic-to-be) with two members of the public, Tanya and Kim sitting very close to the seal. I was kind of bemused to find one of the friendliest seals I've ever come across which was a sign something wasn’t quite right.

Identified the seal as a grey, and from the length and appearance Bev confirmed that it was one of this year's. It had a lump on its left side with slight puss seeping out but even so initially didn’t look that bad. I treated the wound on site and by how sprightly he was decided to release him and observe what happened.

The seal reluctantly made his way to the water's edge where he eventually made his way in. He swam out to a distance of around 30 ft where he stayed. In the meantime I was told by a newly-arrived member of the public that the seal had been very reluctant to go back into the water for around a week! Hmmm – if only I'd known that a few minutes ago...

Took the decision at that stage to bring the seal in for examination if possible. Unfortunately the seal was still in the water – but after half an hour of cat and mouse he finally came ashore again about 100 ft down the beach.

By this time it was already 20:15hrs. After bringing my car (and seal cage) closer to the beach myself and George caught the seal and carried it up the embankment to the car, with assistance from two members of the public (thankyou!).

In the meantime Bev had organised Swanbridge Veterinary Hospital (Swanland) to take the seal and keep it overnight until the RSPCA could collect in the morning to take to East Winch hospital. The seal travelled far too well for my liking – very quiet and absolutely no wee or poo! (good news for my car, bad news for the seal!).

Met Fernandez (the vet) and Lucy at Swanbridge around 21:15 hrs. After giving relevant injections Fernandez examined the seal’s wound and said in his opinion it would need operating on as there was a large hard lump under the skin, possibly from a fire arm. The seal was then tube fed and put in a large secure pen for the night.

Naively I thought that was the end of a happy story – until I received a phone call from Lucy (Swanbridge) at work the next day to say the seal had passed away suddenly after appearing fine twice during the early hours. I informed Bev straight away (sorry for getting you out of bed on a Sunday at that time!) who requested an x-ray. This revealed a huge abscess under the skin but thankfully no sign of a gun shot wound. At least he’d died with as little suffering as possible.

Many thanks to: George (medic-to-be) for keeping such a cool head when thrown in at the deep end.

Tanya and Kim (members of public), who stayed with the seal for hours until I arrived (and then still stayed!). Your help and dedication was invaluable.

Fernandez and Lucy from Swanbridge Veterinary Hospital who appeared to have been handling seals all their lives, and who lived up to the expectations we've always experienced there.

Bev Drayton for her brilliant coordination and organisational skills and for being a rock - I don't think the area coordinators get enough recognition sometimes but just because they’re not physically stood on the beach doesn’t mean they’re not working like hell behind the scenes!! (pay me later Bev ;-) )

Alan Stewart
MMM North East

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