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


2009-03-16 17:32:43

Protracted pup rescue near Newquay

White coat seal pupAt about 15.00 hrs on 15th March, Area Co-ordinator Dave Jarvis was advised by the National Seal Sanctuary that a call had been received regarding a possible white coated seal pup at Polly Joke, on he outskirts of Newquay. He immediately made his way to the location, together with medic Lesley Jarvis, also contacting Assistant Area Co-ordinator Jenny Haley en-route, but unfortunately she was at work, so she contacted other medics near the location, following on from which medic Andrea Blackburn responded.

Upon arrival, Dave and Lesley soon made contact with Andrea and also the original caller, who was still observing the pup from the clifftop. Also, there was medic Kathryn Driscoll, who had been carrying out seal observations for a few hours and had happened upon the scene. It was quickly ascertained that the pup had probably been on the beach since at least mid-day, or possibly longer. Unfortunately, due its location and the incoming tide, access into the cove was now impossible, so the young pup was photographed and monitored until dusk, although it was not in imminent danger of being washed out.

Overnight pictures of the pup were distributed and reviewed and by mid-morning on the 16th a plan was in place. Because of the tidal situation, there would now only be one window of opportunity at about 14.15, otherwise the animal might have been lost. Animal Care Supervisor Tamara Cooper at the Seal Sanctuary, was in agreement that, in the absence of any positive sightings of the mother, the pup would require uplifting. Medic Kathryn Driscoll volunteered to continue monitoring its situation throughout the morning and although there were various sightings of adults, none made any attempt to feed the pup. Towards lunchtime Dave Jarvis, accompanied by Area Co-ordinator Tim Bain and medic Jan Ziolo made their way to Polly Joke, but just as they arrived Kathryn advised that the pup was attempting to swim out to some adult seals, but had failed and been washed back onto the shore. Dave went up onto the clifftop with a VHF radio, whilst Tim and Jan, taking the other handset, donned dry suits and life jackets. They initially tried to walk around the edge of the headland but found the swell too strong, so had to climb across the rocky outcrop instead. Once on the beach in the cove, Dave guided them in to where the pup was now located, under a cleft in the cliff face. It was not long before the animal was safely in a seal bag and the rescuers retracing their steps. As soon as they arrived back on the main beach, they were met by Dave and Kathryn, together with Jenny Haley, whereupon an examination was carried out. The animal still had the remnants of an umbilicus and weighed only 11kg. It was also impossible to get a reading on two digital thermometers. Therefore, it was tube fed with rehydration fluid, with glucose added, following on from which it was carried back to the car and transported to Gweek.

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