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


2006-12-04 15:46:51

Adult seal found shot with pup lying beside it, Arbroath - Scotland

I received a call at 17.23hrs from Alan Stewart, Wildlife and Environment officer, saying that an adult seal had been found on Arbroath beach which had been shot twice (probable entry and exit points of bullet) and that there was a pup, which was alive, lying beside the carcass .The local police retrieved the adult, and it was secured down for the night pending photographic evidence in the morning during daylight hours. Meanwhile Medic Bob Pert had uplifted the pup and took it home where he was able to carry out an assesment on health etc under good lighting. The pup was semi moulted, and with having "fishy breath" had obviously managed to eat some fish. Although body condition was good, it was decided to transport it to Middlebank, with investigations ongoing meantime, with regard to the adult, and the probability of the pup being the shot adults sibling. To be confirmed later. Meanwhile Elaine had spoken with Brian at SSPCA Middlebank, giving him all the deatils and confirmed that the pup was en route to him. Elaine said she would update him tomorrow once she had tied in with the local police who requested corroboration of seal shot and all necessary data for logging on to Wildlife Crime Files. Alan Stewart also requested details and pictures of the pup which were sent to him later in the evening. Allan Muir (Tayforth Co-ordinator) Kindly agreed to accompany Bob Pert to Middlebank. The pup named "Abb" arrived at rehab and was weighed in at 21kg / Codename "Shirley" / reference number 2473 / Sex to be confirmed / feeding status to be confirmed, although it would appear that it is self feeding.

Elaine Roft
Medic & Area Co-ordinator (Montrose & Arbroath)

On attending the scene I was informed by a sea angler that the harbour master and his staff had retrieved the pup and had it contained. We transferred it to my transport tank and I was taken to the adult seal which was halfway up the boatbuilder's slip. After examining it I was firmly of the opinion that the animal had been shot. There was traumatic injury to the head and two holes which had opened out post mortem and allowed the gasses to escape. The pup was removed to my house where it could be left to rest and checked in light. It was weaned / semi-weaned and I judged it to be female from head shape ( I may be wrong but I had no assistance to check better). She still had remnants of her whitecoat. Breathing was 17 bpm but dropped to 12 to 15 bpm after rest. Gums were a lovely pink colour and she seemed quite perky. I think it was safer to rehab her, if she wasn't properly weaned and had been seperated from her mother by the heavy seas, she wouldn't survive. We couldn't leave her where she was and monitor for mother presence (on the slip of a busy boat yard!). I felt so sorry for this animal, did she follow the dead seal into the harbour thinking it may be her mum?

Bob Pert
Medic & Co-ordinator (Montrose & Arbroath)

Thanks to Alan Stewart (Wildlife & Environment Officer), Tayside Police, Arbroath Harbour Master, Ron (Arbroath RNLI), Arbroath Boat Builders, Elaine Roft (Medic & Co-ordinator for Montrose / Abroath), Bob Pert (Medic & Assistant Co-ordinator for Montrose / Arbroath), Allan Muir (Tayforth Co-ordinator)

05.12.06 Myself (Jacque Watt) and Medic and Co-ordinator Elaine Roft arrived at Arbroath at 10.45hrs to confirm the species and sex of the adult seal that was found shot, lying on the slipway at the boat buiders yard yesterday along with a semi moulted grey pup, as per the request of WCLO. We can confirm that the carcass was that of an adult male Grey Seal. There were 2 distinct bullet wounds to the left and right sides of the head (Entry and exit points of the bullets). The head was shattered (skull and nose) and there were teeth missing from both upper and lower jaws.The tip of the tongue had also been blown away. The carcass was photographed by the police before being removed from its location on the slipway. The pup, which had been found with the adult, had most likely followed the carcass down on the tide to its resting place, thinking that it was presumably its mum. Sadly, we also report that the pup, despite having good body weight of 21kg died suddenly overnight in rehab facilities. The pup has been taken for urgent post mortem to rule out foul play. Updates and post mortem results to follow when we receive them.

Jacque Watt
Marine Mammal Medic
Montrose / Arbroath Region