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


2006-10-24 13:11:51

Felixstowe Pup Rescue

On Tuesday 24th October I had my first call out! I was told that an injured seal pup had been seen at Landguard Fort, Felixstowe, "about 200 yards north of the car park just past a white building". I set off with my box and towels, very nervous, knowing that I was the only medic for Felixstowe and so could be dealing with this alone. I parked at the Fort at about 4.00pm and set off down the beach looking out for the white building, thinking every rock was a seal pup. After about five minutes I started to get worried because, although there were plenty of seal-shaped rocks, there was no seal, and no white building. There was however a giant white radio tower so I decided to keep walking and eventually, about half a mile down the beach, I found a man (let's call him Geoff) standing over a very small common seal pup. He told me that he had found the pup earlier and chased it into the sea - it had come back out immediately, and he had then stood with it for the last 45 minutes. I called the BDMLR centre and described the pup to them. I was told to stay with the pup; they would get back to me.

After first examining the pup Geoff had said several times, "Oh isn't he cute! Don’t you just want to stroke him?!" I had warned him that seal pups can give a very nasty bite, and he must not touch him, to which he had quickly replied, "Oh yes, of course of course". However, while I was on the phone to the centre, I saw Geoff bending down to stroke the pup, which went for him (luckily just missing his hand) at which point Geoff jumped up and walked away, glancing back to check that I was still on the phone and hadn't seen him! I now understood why we were told at training to have someone assigned to crowd control!

After a few minutes, I was called by Faye from BDMLR who told me she was an hour and a half away, but would be happy to come down and collect the pup if it needed to go to a seal sanctuary. I had another look at the pup and described it to her. It had a bit of a wrinkle at its neckline, and I could just make out its pelvic bone, and it appeared to be shivering. This coupled with the fact that Geoff and I were standing within centimetres of the pup without it trying to get away, led to the decision that I would catch it, and drive to meet Faye.

By this time my dad had arrived so he stayed with Geoff and the pup while I went back to the car to get my plastic box, which was unfortunately too small! However, my dad had his king size quilt in the back of his car, ready to take to the launderette, so I grabbed that and headed back with a towel. We spread the quilt out next to the pup and then chased it into the middle of it, before folding it up around it and picking it up like a hammock, which, for this little pup, worked perfectly. He put up a bit of a fight at first, but after calling out a few times, he stayed still and quiet while my dad and Geoff carried him with me supervising! We got a few odd looks from dog walkers, but we soon had him tucked up nicely in the boot of my dad's car and, after thanking Geoff for all his help, set off for Toys 'R' Us car park at the Copdock interchange in Ipswich, where we met Faye and her dad at about 7.30pm. They examined the pup, again with some odd looks from passers-by, transferred it into a cage, and then drove off to the seal sanctuary. Faye rang me the next day (while I was looking for a new quilt) to tell me that the pup was doing well, and asked me to write this piece for the website, so here it is! I hope you enjoyed reading about my first rescue!

Rebecca Fisher
Felixstowe Medic