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


2009-01-14 15:00:46

Grey Seal Pup Swallowed Fishing Hook

Seal pupThere were reports of a seal pup and possible porpoise siting at Saltwick Bay, Whitby, and after a steep descent and 30 minutes of searching around the isolated bay (left and rights highly overrated by local helpers!) the tide began to come in. Heading back, I went right to the other end of the bay, fewer footprints, but a last hope, higher up on the embankment, I noticed an entangled orange fishing line, and the speckled, stone grey seal pup behind. The hook was out, and about the size of my fist but the line had wrapped itself deep within the mouth/stomach of the pup.

Dave Wilson and son were on their way with carry kennel; several hours after initial report and no sign of mum, we cut the main hook away so it would not barb the poor mite during transport. We danced around the snapping teeth of the frightened pup for a while and then I took my first lunge, committed, wary not to cause damage, protected by my reinforced cotton towel, and managed to restrain the ever turning neck and open mouth. Checking I had all my fingers, I managed to lever the seal into the box with relative relief, knowing it was soon on its way to for a full servicing in the capable hands of the Seal Hospital. Then we had to climb back up the slippery, craggy cliff side...!

Jamie Hawksby
North Yorkshire Medic

With Jamie on his way Head Office sent out a Bulk text message to the Yorkshire and Middlesborough Team as back up for Jamie. There was also a report of a possible dead Porpoise on the same beach.

We received a text just after 1.00pm asking for someone to check on a seal with a fish-hook in its mouth at Saltwick Bay, Whitby. Unfortunately we couldn't get there until around 2.30pm, so Jamie would get there first, assess the seal and me and Wayne would arrive later to provide any assistance he needed.

Sue White had already told us that if the seal did actually have a fish-hook in its mouth then we could take it to the seal hospital, so we had a plan. We climbed down the muddy pathway leading to the beach, Wayne was the only one to slip over, then we checked the dead porpoise that was also there. She was 96 inches long, with no obvious injuries and a lady dog walker thought the porpoise had been there a few days. Onto the seal, she has a lovely coat, with big beautiful eyes and very feisty but she obviously needed to be lifted. Not only did she have a fish-hook in her stomach but she also has a very poorly flipper. One of the fingers on the right flipper has been virtually severed, you could see the bone. Jamie pounced on the seal and after putting her into the vari-kennel we climbed back up the pathway, although it was tiring (well i'm probably older than Wayne and Jamie together), only Wayne managed to slip over again. Then she was on the way to the seal hospital, into the capable hands of their care team.

She is around 10 weeks old, very cute and very strong, but tomorrow she will have a x-ray to find out exactly where the hook is, and she will probably have to have the injured finger amputated. Her breathing is fine, there is no coughing and apart from the fish-hook and her injured flipper, she is in very good condition.

We will keep you posted on this little pup's condition.

Our thanks go to Natalie at Whitby Holiday Park for reporting the pup, Medic's Jamie Hawksby, David and Wayne Wilson, and the Care Team from the seal hospital.

David Wilson
Middlesbrough Medic


Seal Rescue Update: 19/01/09 - the pup has undergone an operation to remove the hook over the weekend and we are pleased to report that it was a complete success.  The pup is now able to take whole fish. 


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