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


2006-12-15 16:36:04

Badly injured seal pup rescued at Booby's Bay, Cornwall

Around 11am, Cornwall Coordinator Dave Jarvis received a call from BDMLR National Coordinator Trevor Weeks at Head Office regarding what had apparently been identified as a whitecoat seal pup about 2ft long at Booby’s Bay, near Trevose Head. As luck would have it, Dave was actually working at Rock, just the other side of the estuary from nearby Padstow. Trevor advised that he would call out a couple of local Medics, whilst Dave called the National Seal Sanctuary at Gweek to advise them of the situation. Gweek told Dave that they were aware of the seal and had a member of the public making a sign to keep people away.

Approximately 20mins later, Dave had a call from Medic Susie Ray, who was first on scene, to advise that the seal was in fact fully moulted, had blood coming from its mouth and was in a precarious position given the high and incoming tide. Dave instructed Susie, who was accompanied by her friend Rob, to remove the seal from the beach and transport it to a safer location where it could be safely examined and then immediately set out for the site. En route, Dave had a call from Assistant Area Coordinator Jenny Haley to let him know that she had also received a call from Duchy Vets in Newquay, who are her employers, regarding the same animal and that she was already on her way with Medic Lisa Clarke.

Dave, Jenny and Lisa all arrived at the scene at about the same time to meet Susie and Rob, who had brought the seal from off the rocks and up to the lane above. Lisa was given the opportunity the seal whilst veterinary nurse Jenny carried out and assessment of its condition. It appeared slightly underweight with a temperature of 37.6C, a few bite wounds to its rear flipper area, but most concerning was the blood and mucous that was exuding from both its mouth and nose together with inflamed gums, which Jenny interpreted as a mouth ulcer at the time.

At the same time Susie took Dave back down to where the pup had been & although the tide had now turned, it was still obvious that the correct course of action had been taken, since the rock the animal had been on was still being buffeted by strong waves.

Following several telephone calls, Dave and Jenny described the animal’s condition to BDMLR Veterinary Consultant James Barnett, who instructed that it should be taken to Duchy Vets for them to carry out a detailed examination of the animal and treat injuries. So the vehicles set off in convoy for Newquay and upon arrival the animal was given a full examination by experienced veterinary surgeon Mike King and during the course of this x-rays revealed that the pup had suffered a broken jaw, fractured cheek bones and a subsequent check also discovered that it had a severe infection of the sinuses. Mike contacted James to advise him of the animal’s condition, and whilst the animal was to be held overnight at Duchy Vets, consideration was given as to whether it should be transported to either RSPCA Hospital West Hatch in Somerset, or the Seal Sanctuary.

Dave Jarvis
Cornwall Coordinator