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


2005-05-22 18:12:13

Net entangled seal rescued and released in Cornwall

On the evening of Sunday 22nd, Medic Sue Sayer contacted Coordinator Dave Jarvis about a seal in a cove at Godrevy, near Hayle, that had hauled out on to a beach alone and had some fishing net caught around her neck. Fortunately, Dave, Medic Lesley Jarvis and myself had just dropped off Coordinator Tim Bain in St Ives after a hard day training some new Medics at the Newquay College MMM course, but we had not yet left the town.

Foregoing the kebabs we had just purchased, Dave contacted Tim while I informed Animal Care Assistant Marianne Fellows of the situation, who also just happened to be in St Ives at that moment. On the phone, Sue had described the seal as being possibly 2 years old - larger than the average seal that we deal with, so Marianne decided that it may be easier to use new capture net that the Care Team had recently acquired. As the seal was larger than usual, more experienced seal handlers would be required, so Animal Care Assistant Selina Gregory was contacted, and agreed to bring equipment and supplies from the Sanctuary. Senior Animal Care Assistant Tamara Cooper was also contacted, and set out with Medic Chris Ellis.

Arriving at the site, we met Sue and Marianne at the top of the cliff above the beach the seal was hauled out on. Through Sue's telescope we could see no blood around the injury, so it was hoped that if there was a wound, it would not be bad enough for the seal to be brought back to the Sanctuary for further treatment. While awaiting the arrival of Selina with the rescue equipment, we formulated a plan to get down into the cove and catch the seal before it saw us and made a dash for the water. As the seal was still awake and alert, it was looking likely that she would disappear into the sea before anyone got halfway down.

Once Selina and Medic Phil Jarvis had arrived, the rescue team that would enter the cove gathered up the equipment and began the descent. The team consisted of Marianne, Tim and Selina. Since it was still a possibility that the seal would have to come back to the Sanctuary, more hands would be needed at the cliff top to help control the animal once we got it out with the help of Portreath Cliff Rescue Team, so Medic Jenny Haley was called, and brought together four of the new Medics whom we had helped train just three hours ago before setting out.

As the rescue team continued slowly and quietly down into the cove, the seal would occasionally look up and Marianne, Selina and Tim would have to remain very still until she settled down again. Everybody on the cliff above held their breath every time this happened. Eventually, they made it down on to the beach – just as the seal finally spotted them and started to escape! Wasting no time at all, Tim and Marianne ran down the beach to cut it off. While Tim distracted it near the water's edge, Marianne readied her towel and jumped the seal – which was in fact only one of last winter's pups, so would not be as difficult to handle as first thought. Tim helped to control the seal while Selina cut away the net, which had only caused a minor wound that was cleaned and treated. Selina described the seal's condition over the radio to Tamara, who had just arrived with Chris, and it was decided that the seal would not require further treatment at the Sanctuary.

With that, the seal was released, and quickly made its way into the sea. At this point, Jenny Haley arrived with her team of new Medics, who managed to glimpse the seal swimming around offshore. The rescue team in the cove then made their way back out to the sound of applause from Medics and passers-by that had stopped to watch what was going on.

Medic Dan Jarvis
BDMLR West Cornwall
(Newquay - Land's End - St Austell)

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