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


2006-11-09 14:16:25

Busy Day for North Scotland Medics

After a couple of calls about a pup on Freswick beach today medic Julianna said she would have a walk with her son and also medic Jim Thomson went over to have a look. There, just at the entrance to the beach, was a very round molting grey seal pup that was happily watching what was going on around and tasting the sea weed around it. I guess mum has not long left it for weaning and it is exploring what is edible and what isn’t. This pup is more than healthy so original callers were contacted just explain just to leave the pup alone, keep dogs away etc. As it was a nice afternoon Ju and her son walked on along the beach and about half way to Freswick Castle they came upon another pup. Again this was a molting grey but with a neck line and some rolls of spare skin. Ju rang me and let me know about this pup at about 4.30pm saying she thought it was a definite lift for that evening, so arrangements were made to go out a little later and meet up with Ju to assess the pup.

In the mean time, Jim had gone to Sannick Bay to have a general check around due to all the bad weather we have been having. He rang me a few minutes after I had spoken to Julianna saying we had a young pup down on the beach that a member of public had lifted up and carried and put into the water. Oh Heck L The guy was very apologetic and hadn’t realise he had done wrong, someone else walking the beach had explained to him that this is not what the pups need and he was on his way to get the number off the strandings poster to let someone know what had happened when he walked into Jim. Jim put a couple of light sticks in the sand to mark where the pup was for me to return to it on my way to Freswick later –what a brilliant idea!- and unfortunately had to shoot off as prior arrangements had been made for his evening. After finishing work at 7pm I collected Davey and the kit of seal bags and towels and torches and the vari kennel and set off. Sannick was the first port of call, and the light sticks were glowing nicely to lead us to the pup. It was a strange experience in the fact that this beach is usually full of adults, there was not one about, neither on the sand or in the water that we could see and we had some powerful torches with us and a fullish moon that kept creeping into view to give us added light. The little pup (Cuddles) was approached and picked up very easily and taken off to the car back on the road with no effort or fighting from it. I contacted Ju as soon as we got a phone signal to say to meet over at Freswick to have a look at this older pup and twenty minutes later we were walking the beach. We found the pup still about half way down towards the Castle above the high water mark, by now the moon was glowing in a starry sky; it was a pleasant evening walk.

On approaching the pup, maybe as far as 30ft away it hissed and growled its warning at us, so a cautious approach allowed us to see that is was about half way through losing its white fur, had a visible neckline and the rolls of skin, but the hips were not visible, so it was decided that Ju would return the following day in daylight to see if it was still there and I will go out there on Saturday to see if there is any change in its condition.

We returned to the cars and went our own ways; I thanked Ju for a late trip out and headed off home with Cuddles safely in the kennel. By the time we got home she was still cold and wet so out came the towels to cuddle her into and a better look over while stuff was being prepared for giving her fluids. We found she was a girl and weighed 9.25kg with a hand towel wrapped around her no marks or abrasions were visible on her body anywhere. Roughly 80ml of fluid was given at about 10pm and then we managed to finish drying her off and settled her in the kennel for a while with plans being made for transport to Middlebank the next day if she survived the night. She awoke at 5.45am and another 100ml of fluid was given her kennel checked for cleanliness and she was returned to it to settle down again.

Medic Richard Bradley called around at 10.30am on his way to Montrose to do the RYA powerboat course that Elaine Roft has organised and picked up Cuddles to transport her off down the road to meet with Cameron near Tayport. We wished Richard a good journey and weekend, and said goodbye and good luck and watched them set off on what would be a mammoth journey for the little one.

Update from Elaine
10.25hrs Sue White at BDMLR Head Office called Elaine Roft (Montrose & Arbroath Group) asking if we could assist with the relay of an unweaned grey seal pup coming from Thurso to Middlebank

Medic Paul Horne was free to meet Richard at Dundee (who was transporting the pup down), However, it was quicker and in the interest of the pups health for Richard to make his way to Tayport once in Dundee (1 mile off the beaten track of his journey to Montrose) where BDMLR Consulting vet Cameron McPherson would be waiting to administer fluids to "Cuddles" and assess condition. Elaine had called Cameron to confirm this and was given the ok. Elaine also asked if Cameron had enough Lectade Plus and veterinary stomach tubes etc (If not, the Montrose team would come down to Dundee with these). Elaine confirmed she would give an ETA for pup arriving at Tayport approx 40 minutes in advance when she had an update from Richard

13.25hrs Richard and "Cuddles" are approximately 40 minutes away from Inverness and all is going well

15.39hrs Richard is 40 minutes away from Perth but is concerned that the pup may have stopped breathing. Elaine advises to pull over and try to get a breathing rate and stimulate the pup.(It was difficult to get bpm, but the pup stirred after stimulation) Cameron McPherson is updated that the pup is almost in Perth but breathing rate has dropped and the pup appears to have gone in a "flat state". An ETA at SSPCA Middlebank is also confirmed - 18.00 - 19.00hrs and we are advised to call Middlebank when "Cuddles" is half an hour from arrival so that staff can reopen the rehab unit.

18.05hrs Cameron has now taken receipt of the pup and updated Elaine, fluids have been administered, temp reading is sitting at 35degrees and pup is hypothermic. "Cuddles" is now on her way to Middlebank with Vet Cameron McPherson and Richard heads for Montrose. Head Office (Sue, Tony, Trevor) and Paula Gent (Caithness Co-coordinator) are updated by Elaine on the pups present condition.

Update from Cameron
Richard arrived just prior to 6pm, so we immediately got the pup out of the back of his car to have a look. It was very depressed with shallow, occasional respirations, but did become more alert when we began to handle it. It was very thin, small (as had been previously mentioned) and dehydrated. Rectal temperature was 35.1 deg C. I administered 100ml of lectade and then proceeded to Middlebank. On arrival there the pup was placed in a pen with a heat lamp, and after a period of 20-30 min, the plan was to administer a further 150ml of fluid this evening. The log number is 2356 and it has the codename 'Alan'. Hopefully it will do ok, but unfortunately the outlook is a little grim.

Final update received this morning 11th November at about 9am

Elaine has just rung to say Middlebank have been in touch to say that Cuddles died during the night. RIP Cuddles at least you are now warm and not alone.

I would just like to sincerely thank everyone involved every step of the way, from Jim for the initial reporting, Ju for the late walk, advice and organization from Elaine, Sue, Jamie, Richard for taking the pup south and what he did on the way to keep her going, Cameron for being there to meet her and give her a chance and Middlebank for all that they have done to try to get her through.

THANK YOU ALL. I am proud to be part of such a special team.

Paula Gent
Caithness Coordinator