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


2006-12-05 16:06:26

Severe storms cause chaos in Cornwall

2nd December

14.00: Dave and Lesley Jarvis received a call from the Cornwall Wildlife Trust Strandings Network requesting assistance in transporting the body of a seal pup that had been reported at Downderry. As luck would have it they were actually in Plymouth at the time, so it was ‘on their way home’. The body of a small seal was recovered from the beach and taken to a holding facility to await an examination of wounds on the body.

3rd December

9.00: In their capacity as volunteers for the Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Marine Strandings Network, BDMLR Cornwall Coordinators Tim Bain and Dave Jarvis with Medic Lesley Jarvis were called out to examine a dead dolphin washed up at Praa Sands. They found a common dolphin in very fresh condition with monofilament net injuries to several parts of its body. The carcass was uplifted and taken for Post Mortem examination.

15.00: A call was received regarding a seal pup that had been seen earlier that day apparently not looking well hauled out below the cliffs at Treyarnon Bay, North of Newquay. Coordinators Dave Jarvis and Tim Bain started out with Medics Lesley and Dan Jarvis while calling ahead to Assistant Coordinator Jenny Haley to attend as well.

Jenny arrived on site first with Medic Lisa Clarke, and were faced with horrendous conditions: massive seas (stormy surf in the region of 20ft+), strong onshore winds (Force 8 – 10) blowing foam and spray up the beach, rain showers and the big spring tide just reaching its highest point and breaking up the cliffs. They started searching the area from the nearby high ground, the pup was obviously not on the beach as the waves were reaching far beyond the normal high tide line, and the poor conditions meant it was very difficult to see much in the rolling seas. They were joined shortly by Tim, Dave, Lesley and Dan who helped to search the beach and surrounding cliffs, but to no avail. The pup had gone and the search had to be called off as the light faded.

19.00: Dave had just dropped Tim off back home and was in the local kebab shop ordering some much needed food when Dan called to say the Seal Sanctuary had contacted him about a pup on the beach at nearby Gwithian. Dave cancelled the order and hurried back home to pick up Lesley and Dan. Medics Simon Bone and Karl Wheston were called to help search the area by torchlight. Fortunately the tide was now receding quickly, making the beach safer to use although the winds appeared to be increasing as well as rain showers. Dave, Lesley and Dan arrived on the beach first and spread out across the beach to start systematically checking for the seal. Eventually, it was located just before the arrival of Simon and Karl in the middle of the beach below the high tide mark. The approximately 2-week-old pup appeared healthy and a good weight, but on closer inspection an ulcer was noticed in one eye and a swelling noted on the left foreflipper. After passing on these details to Marianne of the Sanctuary’s Animal Care Team, it was decided that the pup needed to come in for treatment. The seal was caught up and taken for rehabilitation, where it has now been named ‘Stitch’.

4th December

10.00: Our new Assistant Coordinator Hannah Walter received a report of a pup at Millook Haven, near Bude. She and Medic Max Faulkner travelled to the scene and found a vicious pup hiding under a boat on the slipway. As the pup was inaccessible and seemed reasonably healthy and happy to remain where it was, it was decided to return later to check on it again as the sea were described as ‘mountainous’ and it was of concern that it might try to go back out if it was disturbed.

15:30: Hannah contacted Coordinator Dave Jarvis to request assistance with the pup at Millook as it was now looking decidedly ill as it had come out to the edge of the boat. The pup had a couple of deep wounds on its side and more on its rear flippers that appeared infected. Tim Bain, Dave and Lesley Jarvis travelled to the scene, together with Medic Michelle Robinson and together with Hannah the pup was quickly removed from the beach to a safer location were it was examined, tube fed & temperature taken. As NSS Gweek were full Dave, Tim and Lesley transported the animal to Tiverton, where they were met by the RSPCA, who took the pup on to West Hatch, Somerset.

5th December

08.00: An e-mail with photo attachments was received by Dave showing a pup on a St Ives beach with a severe net injury around the neck and in malnourished condition. Unfortunately the photo had been taken two days previously, but Coordinator Tim Bain & medic Lesley Jarvis checked local beaches in the area anyway, but with no sign of it.

Dave Jarvis
Cornwall Coordinator