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


2005-07-28 14:11:36

For the love of a seal

Opal - a Grey seal bull has been resident to the Montrose area now for 3 years frequenting the areas from the Scottish Wildlife Trust to Johnshaven. He has never taken a Southerly direction to feed during his time with us.

From the onset when I first met Opal, there was an instant bond within. I was eating an Opal fruit at the time I first observed him so thought it an appropriate name for him. This was my first encounter with a bull seal in close proximity. I had to be torn away from him!

During his time with us Opal has become quite a character, with the locals at Ferryden and Montrose beginning to recognise him. His best friend is a Beagle named "Barney" and often the two would spend hours at a time playing together in a location close to his territory before he became poorly.

Robson and Partners (local vets) have been called out to him to ease the public’s minds that this seal is an "old dog". He poses no threat to fish stocks! and simply wants to have peace and quiet to conserve what energy levels he has and to enjoy resting knowing that he has guardians watching over him.

With a love so deep for this seal (ask my husband!) as I spend more time sleeping with the seal! I felt that we owed him some sort of protection and company for the hours of enjoyment he has given, not only to us, but to the countless holidaymakers from the nearby caravan park, The locals and children of Ferryden, Montrose and surrounding areas and to visitors in general who have been enquiring about him. It was from this point that myself and my dedicated team have been working tirelessly round the clock in shifts, watching over him whilst he is hauled out to rest, at the same time keeping well wishers updated on his progress.

We are in constant communications with our vet regarding his health who has confirmed that although Opal is poorly, he is not in any pain and at this stage feels that euthanasia is not required. We are to continue monitoring him for the time being. Our own BDMLR Vet James Barnett is also kept informed of his progress.

I thank my dedicated team of Volunteers who have engaged in nightly vigils alongside me (in particular) Willie Taylor / Peter Taylor / Andy Dulley. Day shift Volunteers Jacque Watt and Junior Observers Kayla Watt and Tamisha Watt. Volunteers Sue and Paul Horne for continuing patrols and monitoring from the river Estuary North - to St Cyrus along with Jim and Edna. To the rest of my team for covering call-outs during this time and attending talks (Rebecca and Thom), Iain and Leilagh Wallace for being on standby and to my loyal Deputy Co-ordinator Bob Pert. Thanks also to Robson and Partners (vets), The Big Man, all locals, holidaymakers and well wishers. This seal needed you all... and you were there for him...


Elaine Roft
British Divers Marine Life Rescue
Montrose Area Co-ordinator (Inverbervie-Easthaven)

I didn't meet Opal until recently, Elaine has always been full of stories about this seal that plays with dogs in the surf and hauls out and doesn't mind her being near. She called one night, recently, to ask if I could attend as Opal seemed in very poor condition and may need to be euthanased. When I arrived Elaine was nowhere in sight, she had gone to guide the vet to Opal's position. I approached Opal and talked gently to him so as not to alarm him, he looked up as I sat down and returned to his snooze almost immediately. As I talked to him I happened to say "Opal" and he immediately lifted his head as if to say "Yeah, what?". I thought "No way did he recognise his name, he's a wild seal!". I continued talking softly to him and said "Opal" again without stressing it, he looked up again! This animal does know his name; I don't think there is a wild seal anywhere else in the world that will react to its name being said!

As you can see from the pictures, to the right, Opal no longer has that "roundness" associated with these animals. He is an old man who we would like to see die naturally; this is one seal we will not allow to be shot!

Bob Pert
British Divers Marine Life Rescue
Deputy Co-ordinator

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