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


2008-11-01 12:18:04

Seal pup rescued from huge mass of net, Cornwall

Netted seal (photo: Cornwall Seal Group)Early in the morning, Coordinator Dave Jarvis had a call from Medic Sue Sayer who was carrying out photo-ID work on a local seal colony as part of her passion for the Cornwall Seal Group, but upon arrival had spotted a small seal badly entangled in green trawl net high up on the beach away from the others. The net appeared to be caught around the pup’s neck and part of it was draped over its head, which likely reduced its vision significantly. A team was quickly gathered and convened on the clifftop a short time later.

Coordinator Tim Bain and Medic Rob Gray were chosen to go down the cliff with experienced climbers Chris and Phil, who had brought ropes and other climbing equipment with them to enable access to the cove where the seal was hauled out. In the meantime, Coordinator Dave Jarvis and Medics Sue Sayer, Trevor Waterhouse, Jenny Gray and Kate Hockley kept members of the public informed as to what was happening and to make sure that they did not make any loud noises, which might alert the pup to the approaching rescuers and cause it to run away.

Having gone down the steep cliff path as far as they could safely go, the rescue team set up the ropes and attached themselves to it to get down the final drop off and on to the beach behind a rocky outcrop, out of view of the netted pup. Once on the beach, they readied the rescue kit and jumped the very surprised pup. Tim and Rob then started cutting away the net, which was wrapped tightly around the neck, but had also gotten caught inside the mouth. Despite this, the net had not cut in around the neck, and the pup seemed to be in reasonable condition, so it was decided to release it back on to the beach. The pup was obviously still exhausted and did not head into the sea, but instead remained on the beach to rest for a while afterwards. In the meantime, Tim, Rob, Chris and Phil made their way back up to the top of the cliff. The net was also brought back with them and found to measure 3.3m long and is amongst the worst cases of net entanglement that we have encountered through the sheer amount of net involved, so this pup was exceptionally lucky to have been spotted in time to be saved.

» Cornwall Seal Group report

Dave Jarvis
Director and Cornwall Area Coordinator
British Divers Marine Life Rescue