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


2006-11-29 15:38:23

Beach Trek: The Search for the Seals

On the evening of the 28th, Coordinator Dave Jarvis received a call regarding a pup on the beach at Porthkerris down on the Lizard. So Dave & Tim Bain, went out to look for the pup.

Arriving at the site, the pup was quickly spotted just above the reach of the high tide. An assessment of the pup’s health was made from a distance using torches, and it appeared to be in good condition and a healthy weight for a pup of around 2 weeks old. As conditions were calm, a message was left on the answerphone at the NSS Gweek & it was decided to leave the pup overnight and to check for it again in the morning in case it’s mother had found it.

The following day, Sharon Gisby, who was doing seal handling experience at Gweek went down to the beach again and was joined a short while later by Tim Bain and Dan Jarvis. The pup was not where it had been seen the night before, so the team searched the whole beach, without success. They then searched the nearby cove of Porthallow, followed by Porthoustock to the South, still with no sign of any seal. Tim walked the coast path back to Porthkerris, keeping in contact with Sharon and Dan via radio as they continued on by car to meet him at the other end.

As Tim made his way back down on to Porthkerris, he spotted the elusive pup, alone, in the water a short distance from the shore. It quickly disappeared though, so the immediate area was observed from vantage points along the beach. Annoyingly, the pup had once again vanished. Sharon had to leave later on, while Tim and Dan stayed on and made one last walk of the beach, again using the radios to maintain contact, before night fell. With the pup apparently having fun hiding somewhere nearby, the search had to be brought to an end. However, 10 minutes into the journey home, a call came through from Dave Jarvis that the Cornwall Wildlife Trust Strandings Network had just received a report about a pup hauled out at Porthoustock...

Tim and Dan diverted back in the opposite direction and finally found the pup with the help of a local Coastguard who had reported it to the CWT. It now came complete with fresh grazes on its rear flippers and an infected graze on its left foreflipper. Oedema was also noted in both eyes and the pup’s temperature was also high at 38.9C. Consulting with Curator Glenn Boyle at the National Seal Sanctuary during this time, it was decided the pup should be brought in. With the help of the Coastguard and a volunteer, the pup was loaded into the cage and taken away for rehabilitation, where it was named Pudgy.

Whilst all of this was going on, at 15.00 on 29th November, medic Hannah Walter was advised that a seal pup had been washed up on a beach called Millook, about two miles from where she worked. She set out with her recently received Varikennel & seal bag to discover a fully moulted but very underweight pup on the beach. The animal was quickly uplifted and taken to local Veterinary Surgeons Locke and Preston, where it was attended to by Mr Preston, this being the second animal that they have assisted us with recently, the initial one having been treated by Vicky White. Hannah then met up with medic Sue Gear and monitored the pup whilst awaiting the attendance of the RSPCA, who transported it to their hospital at West Hatch.

Dave Jarvis
Cornwall Coordinator