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


2009-01-26 17:26:34

Rescue of Seal Pup at Rockham Beach, North Morte, North Devon

Seal pupPresent at the rescue was Jenny O'Connor BDMLR, Steve and Karen both new BDMLR medics and local residents Dawn Murphy and North Morte Farm caravan and camping park owner Brian, his father-in-law Ray and one of their workers.

I was unable to go and see the Seal pup on Sunday, as I had another call to go too, near Bude. Dawn Murphy a local resident, who has been watching the Seal pup from a distance, offered to check on him for me. Dawn called me Sunday evening to say, the pup didn't seem to be so lively and was I going down to check on him Monday morning, which I said yes I was.

Monday 26 January
At 9.10am I had a text from Dawn, whom had gone down this morning to check on the Seal pup, she told me that the pup had moved itself up under the cliff, sometime since yesterday. Dawn also stated that the pup seemed very life-less and not making the normal growling noises, when approached and she felt he was losing weight. I told her I would be down later and I would organise other medic's to meet me there and then we can make a decision on whether he needed to be brought off the beach, for medical attention.

We all met at the North Morte Farm caravan and camping park, for 1pm. I explained to Steve and Karen that we were going down to the beach to check the pup and if it was strong and healthy with no weight loss, he would be staying on the beach.

I rang the coastguard to let them know we were going down to the cove and may have to remove the seal pup and said I would ring them back when we were safe and out of the cove. I also rang the National Trust and told them what was happening as it was there land we were going on.

We reached the beach at about 1.30pm and I took one look at the pup and knew he was weak and had lost weight. Karen and Dawn also stated how much weight he had lost and how he didn't care that we were there.

When I stood over him the only reaction I got was a wave of his fore- flipper and a pitiful stare. He seemed weak and had lost weight. I then talk to the team and we all agreed he had to come off the beach.

We laid out a tarpaulin with a large towel on top, then went over to the pup and put a towel on him, so we could pick him up. The only time he made any resistance toward us, was when we pick him up and took him over to the tarpaulin, we laid him down and wrapped in the tarpaulin, he then settle for the rest of the journey, back to our vehicles.

Karen and her partner Dave, Steve and myself, took a corner each of the tarpaulin and walked over to the steps leading up to the top of the cliff, followed by Dawn who was carry our coats and bags. After a long climb, we reach the top, just as Brain turned up with his tractor and trailer to takes us back to our vehicles. After an eventful ride back, across water-logged fields, we reach my vehicle and put the Pup into the cage, which Sue in the BDMLR office had kindly arranged for me to pick up that morning.

I decided to leave my car boot open for the pup to rest and cool down before his long journey to RSPCA - West Hatch. I then thanked everyone for their help and called the Coastguard to inform them we were safe and it was a successful rescue. After having rested for all of us and the team having a chat about the event, I headed out for West Hatch, picking up my partner Nick, just in case there were any problems on the way. We reached West Hatch about 5.40pm, after having a lot of traffic and then we took him into his new accommodation for medical attention and food.

I would like to thank everyone in the BDMLR office and the team on the ground for their assistance in this rescue.

Jenny O'Connor
BDMLR Medic for North Devon