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

News

2006-09-24 12:41:56

Caithness Grey seal pups rescued

On the 20th September I was sent an email about our first sightings on the mainland up here of 2 grey seal pups. When I saw which beach they were on I thought that I ought to go and check them as it is quite a busy beach when the weather is nice as it has been. On Friday the 22nd I went for a ride out and observed the two seals and was immediately concerned about one of them as it looked a wee bit on the skinny side. I took photographs and emailed them to Jamie Dyer for an expert opinion. A boat trip had been organised the next day from the next bay for all our medics and after the wildlife cruise a few of us went to check on the pups.

Unfortunately there were about 20 people camping on the beach that night including a dog which had been observed running up and down the surf line barking at the approximately 50 adults in the water. A quiet word in the ear hole of one of the campers assured us that the dog had been nowhere near the pups, but after seeing photographs later in the day from a friend, I am pretty sure the pups had both been handled by umpteen people and harassed by the dog. Photographs were taken of the pups again and emailed to Jamie later after the pups had been under observation by one of the team who had volunteered to stay there until after dark with my daughter. During the time Kas and Karina were watching no adults came anywhere near either of the pups, in fact the one at the far end of the beach had no adults near it in the water even though it was calling as darkness fell.

A couple of phone calls to Jamie later and the decision was to definitely uplift the pup at the entrance of the beach the following day (Sunday) as it was obviously getting weaker and further assessment of the other pup to take place. I rang Jim and Mandy Saturday evening giving them instructions to meet up at the beach on Sunday at 2pm as we were definitely uplifting one of the pups maybe both, I would know better the next day.

On Sunday Jim and Mandy met up at the beach at a prearranged time and I joined them after picking up another seal bag and a vari kennel from Alistair Jack. Jim had already uplifted the first pup and I said that after another chat with Jamie and the pictures I had emailed him, the second pup was going to be uplifted too. We all trundled down the beach to find the second pup with quite a few sets of quad bike tracks running round it, the poor thing was so stressed out it was hissing and snapping at us and then instantly falling asleep it was so exhausted. This pup was quickly gathered up and put into a seal bag for the trip off the beach and up the dunes to where we had left the cars. It was very quickly transferred into another vari kennel that Mandy had very kindly borrowed from the SSPCA and after more phone calls to various people searching out a vehicle large enough to carry two vari kennels we set off in convoy back to Thurso to meet Rich (with his 7 seater van).

Jamie had very kindly sorted out the travel arrangements for us to meet up with someone in the Inverness area and details were given to me on the way to Thurso. We had arranged to meet Rich were had all done the MMM course just 3 weeks ago for the pups to be go south in his van. When we arrived and met up the pups were quickly transferred into his vehicle, a final call from Jamie gave last minute instructions and at the time of writing this, they are 1 hour down the A9 on their way to meet Beatrice from Ullapool who will take them on from the Falls of Shin.

I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped out in this, our first ever rescue. Especially to Jamie for some excellent advice over the phone and getting the swap over arrangements made for us. To Jim for getting out to the beach twice today. To Mandy for coming out to the beach and getting hold of the extra kennel that we needed and being hissed and snapped at by ‘little miss attitude’. To Kas and Karina for sitting on a damp dune cliff top watching the pups until after dark and getting wet while pulling it out from under the swell trying to take it away. To Colin (seabird) for making us aware of the campers and dog. To Rich for letting us hijack his Sunday afternoon and driving the pups south to meet up with Beatrice. To Beatrice who has agreed to take these two early pups and get them back to health.

If I missed anyone I apologise profusely, you may kick my backside later.

Paula Gent
BDMLR Northern Scotland