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

News

2005-11-09 11:56:39

Common seal in Cornwall

While visiting the National Seal Sanctuary at Gweek, Coordinator Dave Jarvis had a call from BDMLR Head Office about a seal hauled out on the lifeboat slipway at St Ives. Dave passed on the message to the Senior Animal Care Assistant Tamara Cooper, who gathered Medic Jenny Linnell from Devon who is currently volunteering there, and the Sanctuary’s Marketing Assistant/Medic Rachael Vine before heading for St Ives. In the meantime, Coordinator Tim Bain, who was also at the Sanctuary, had contacted St Ives Medic Simon Money to look after the seal until Tamara and the others arrived.

When they got there, Tamara confirmed that it was in fact a common seal, a very rare species for South West England. It was healthy and had a minor cut to its lower body that did not necessitate a rescue. The animal was left to go back into the water of its own accord, which it did a short time later. There were further anecdotal reports of a seal near Smeaton’s Pier, and also hauling out briefly on Porthminster Beach a short while afterwards, but no further reports were then received.

Common seals do not inhabit Devon and Cornwall due to the lack of suitable habitats, such as mud flats and sand banks, for a colony to become established. However, this year there have been at least three prior confirmed sightings, one in Cornwall and three in Devon. The following day, a common seal was reported in the River Exe, Devon. Director Tony Woodley responded and found it to have cataracts in both eyes and in suboptimal body condition, but it disappeared into the water before more could be done. This is probably the same seal reported here a few months ago.

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