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


2005-10-27 11:44:02

Lost seal pup rescued, Cornwall

Just before midday, Medics Sue Sayer and Simon Bone were out seal watching in St Ives Bay to gather data for the Godrevy Seal Group when they noticed a whitecoat grey seal pup behaving oddly in the water offshore of a haulout cove. After further observation it was ascertained that the pup was attempting to suckle from juvenile seals playing in the water, who interpreted this as either play fighting or attacking, so the juveniles [click to enlarge image] played or attacked back, with the pup receiving superficial bites to the head, body and flippers in the process. Undeterred, the pup continued to search for its missing mother while wailing loudly at the adults around it.

Sue called Coordinator Dave Jarvis and the National Seal Sanctuary, who sent out a rescue team consisting of both West Cornwall Coordinators (Dave Jarvis and Tim Bain); Medic Karl Wheston and Animal Care Assistant Marianne Fellows from the Seal Sanctuary. Marianne assessed the pup to be malnourished and likely to have been separated from its mum in the storms of the previous weekend – a whitecoat pup was known to be missing by the Seal Group from further along the coast since Monday morning.

Fortunately, the pup had returned to the shore by the time the team was ready to attempt a rescue, having previously gone back in the water while they were en route with a cage. Tim, Marianne and Karl descended the steep path down into the cove and headed towards the seal, safely hidden away behind some boulders on the far side of the beach. Marianne jumped the pup and Tim took its temperature, which was normal. Karl stayed near the bottom of the path with safety ropes to help pull the pup up once it was brought over.

After Marianne and Tim were done, the pup was wrapped in a seal stretcher net and secured, and then taken over to Karl, where between the three of them it was brought back up to the clifftop. Once there, the pup, a female, was transferred to a cage and was taken by Marianne back to the Seal Sanctuary for treatment and rehabilitation, and was named ‘Elsie Mo’. She weighed around 12kg.

For more photos of the rescue, please visit Medic Sue Sayer’s Godrevy Seal Group website ( and Medic Simon Bone’s Cornish Seals website (

Update – 30th October 1500hrs: After doing well for the first couple of days, Elsie Mo’s condition deteriorated overnight on the 29th/30th. This morning she was found in very poor condition and the Animal Care Team are doing everything they can to help her pull through.

Update - 30th October 22.15hrs : Sadly, Elsie Mo passed away later this afternoon at around 4:30pm, having spent most of the day on an intravenous drip.

Murphy, rescued from Bude the previous week, sadly died during the night of the 16th after a downturn in his condition. Thatcher and Guinness are both improving.

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

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