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


2006-12-01 15:40:05

Seal pup rescue - Johnshaven, Scotland

Having received a phone call from Medic Rebecca Chambers telling us that there was a small seal pup near to the caravan site in Johnshaven, myself and Paul Horne responded at 14.45hrs. We found a small grey seal pup on the shingle and monitored it for a while. Respiration was 23 over 1 minute, and the seal was making a 'rasping' sound when breathing. Breathing appeared to be heavy and laboured.The pup was approx 2ft in length. It had a few tufts of white hair to it's rear and the rear flippers were white - semi moulted.

There was a discharge around the right eye and there was yellow / pale green discharge coming from it's nostrils. The Gums were also pale.

We Spoke to Elaine Roft, Our Co-ordinator and detailed what we had found, then Paul headed off to Medic Rebecca Chambers house (just off the beach location) to pick up the transportation tank as we felt that we had to uplift the pup given its breathing and nasal discharge despite it having reasonable body weight. I stayed with the pup and tried to keep it on the shingle and thereby avoiding the slippery rocks. We were unable to sex or take the temperature of the pup as Paul was straddling the seal and I couldn't get down to ground level due to my being in a leg brace and on crutches.

Rebecca Chambers, medic, did attend the pup but we felt that, due to her having a nasty stomach bug, she should not get too near the pup.

Paul managed to get the pup into the tank and I again phoned Elaine and updated her on the situation. She asked that we take the pup back to our house and that we leave it in the tank, in the car, with adequate ventilation whilst she set up a relay to Middlebank and established contact with BDMLR consulting Vet Cameron McPherson. This would also allow the pup to rest, hopefully reduce the respiration rate and allow it to settle down.

On arriving home from the locus, Elaine phoned to say that there was no-one available to relay the pup to Middlebank at this time, so Paul and Willie Taylor, medics, agreed to relay the pup straight down to Middlebank, ETA 17.30 hrs.

Before leaving I monitored respiration and found it to be 13 over 30 seconds and then the seal appeared to stop breathing, we both felt it had died, but a few seconds later it began moving.

Breathing was still heavy and, after speaking to Elaine, it was felt that we should not disturb the pup any more but should set off immediately to Middlebank as per Cameron McPherson & Middlebanks instructions.

I again contacted Elaine and updated her on what was happening. The pup, named "Rivie" arrived at Middlebank between 17.30 - 18.00hrs, was given the code name "Kirston" and reference number 2468. It weighed in at 16.4kg, was given rehydration fluids and left to rest in its holding pen.

Sue Horne
Montrose / Arbroath Region

Thanks to Medics Rebecca Chambers, Paul Horne, Willie Taylor, Our Co-ordinator Elaine Roft, BDMLR Consulting Vet Cameron McPherson, SSPCA Middlebank