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


2006-07-23 11:07:38

Seal uplift at Beadnell - Northumberland

Called by Faye, who was in the process of hunting for a dolphin ( a regular Sunday activity I hear! ) who had received a call via Humber Coastguard reporting a seal ashore at Beadnell (small village 50 miles north of Newcastle) called in by a holidaymaker from the nearby caravan park.

After ringing around a number of the medics in the north Tyne area, and finding them to either have their phones off, be out or generally enjoying the weather far too much to take their phone out, I packed the kids (Jake 4, Patrick 17 months) into the car & set out to have a look.

On arrival at Beadnell I found that my two sons were quite obviously overcome with excitement at the prospect of possibly rescuing a seal I called the number of he person who phoned about the seal, and they arranged to meet me at the entrance to the caravan site to take me to where it was.

As I was waiting, I got a call from Adrian Hardy, one of my non-answering medics, who had the rather lame excuse of being unable to get to his phone as it was in his car while he was under water diving. As luck would have it, he was diving about 2 minutes up the road, and as his partner Louise wasn't going back in, she would be more than happy to come along to assist. Once I had picked her up (trying not to take the p too much about Adrian's Pirates of the Caribbean themed headgear) we went to find the people who found the seal.

Packing Patrick into his pushchair, and shoving my seal kit underneath, we headed for the beach, and hopefully a fit but resting seal. After about 1/2 a mile we came to the rather strangely named Dunnygoat beck, which we had to cross, Louise keeping an eye on Jake, now without shoes and socks, and myself and two of the holidaymakers lifting Patrick's mode of transport across (I am hoping he didn't enjoy the sedan chair method, as he may get ideas above his station) spotting the seal very easily on the other side. He was exceptionally thin, and a great distance from the shoreline, and from first glance I knew he was going to need help. I made one of the easiest grabs so far, on an animal that had about as much fight in him as the model I had been using at Vetsim the previous week. Neck, shoulders and hips were very obvious, and I could easily feel ribs beneath lose skin. He measured dead on 70cm from nose to tail.

I called Faye to update her, and to also see if she could call my local seal B&B to see if they would take her, while I arranged transport from the beach, which she said she would or arrange a relay down to the next available seal hospital if the answer was no. Adrian had mentioned seeing a Coastguard rescue vehicle going past him, so that gave me an idea.

After a quick call to Humber Coastguard, Seahouses Coastguard rescue team (CRT) were asked if they would mind helping, which they didn't mind at all. Calling me by radio (as I also volunteer for a team that works for HMCG) they pinpointed my position, despite my poor description and total lack of local knowledge, and headed to meet me. I quickly found myself with not one but 2 CRTs! as Craster CRT had popped along to see if they could help too.

Faye called back saying that the seal had a place to stay locally, and that I just had to get him to an RSPCA officer in Ponteland (40 miles south) so once he was loaded into a recently donated fish box, he was carried up the beach to the waiting HMCG 4x4s, and loaded in the back alongside my sons buggy. The lads were also king enough to give us a nice and gentle ride back to the caravan park so as to avoid panicking the seal, then helped load him into my car ready for the ride south.

As I dropped Louise off to Adrian's car, he had finished his diving lesson (local instructor, good rates ;-) ) ad offered to take the seal to Ponteland to save me the extra time, as it was now quite late and I had (until reminded by my wife) accidentally forgotten about feeding my children (plenty of juice though, so don't worry!)

Jake named the seal (with Adrian and Louise's help) 'Sharky' after the sharks on his underpants (Jakes, not the seals...) as his trousers had been removed due to the excess water and sand which both my children were now affected by, due to their hydrophilic properties.

Last report from the B&B was that the Sharky had been tube fed, weighed in at 8kg, but had perked up.

Huge thanks must go out to Alex and Bernie at Humber, the Seahouses and Craster CRTs who did all the heavy lifting of seal and pushchair, Donna and Graeme who made the first call, and Louise of help with sprog watching and Adrian for seal transport and comedic headwear ;-)

Richard Ilderton
BDMLR North East Coordinator