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


2009-11-01 15:02:33

Henry the Jersey seal

Grey seal pupMy first call came in on Sunday morning from the JSPCA out of hours driver at about 10.30am. A call had been received from a member of public walking their dog, of a baby seal down at Fort Henry, Grouville Bay. I set off to assess the situation in the pouring rain and winds. On arrival the dog walker was still there, with the fire and inshore rescue waiting to see if they could be of any help. As soon as I saw the pup I knew we were dealing with an unweaned grey just from the size alone. He was tiny. He had come to settle against a water outlet, right up under the beach wall. I went closer for observation and apart from his obvious age possibly against him, he was really feisty. He was alert, had bright eyes, a clean nasal area, no injuries apart from a scuff under his chin and once I backed away was quite happy to take a snooze. Once snoozing on his back I could see signs of the umbilical cord, confirming my thoughts of a newborn.

I chose not to arrange an urgent rescue and called for back up from another medic Tizane Gallichan-Tredant and her husband and future medic Tim. The fire service made an exit and left a number in case they were needed again. Between us we kept dog walkers at a safe distance and awaited for a visit from Hugh Forshaw our vet for confirmation of my initial assessment. The Royal Grouville golf club bought us coffee and sandwiches once they realised the three of us were in for a long day in the wind and rain.

On Hugh's arrival, he confirmed no urgent interference was necessary and that observation on the upcoming tide would be best incase mum came back to feed the pup. Pup was calling regularly, so we kept quite a distance and perched ourselves up on the sea wall, so as hopefully not to put mum off. MMM Jez Payne was also put on standby for a possible rescue. As the hours passed and the tide got closer, darkness was also not too far away, we were growing concerned for when the tide hit the sea wall and boulders, with the pups age he would surely drown in front of us. I had in the meantime been on the phone and email to fellow coordinators, Dave, Jason, and Jamie.

They had seen photos I had taken of the area and pups size. I had also put the JSPCA on standby and got permission from the CEO that we could house the pup overnight if required and visit regularly for feeding.

A few members of public started turning up, one being wildlife photographer Gregory Guida and his partner Amy Hall. He very kindly offered his services with his private plane if it was needed the next day to Guernsey and I had Condor on standby for a possible crossing at 1730 the next day.

The decision was then made quite promptly to uplift the pup for its safety, in agreement with fellow coordinators due to the forcast for high winds and the tide reaching the sea wall.

Hugh Forshaw very smoothly caught the pup and popped him in a pet carrier. I transferred him back to the Jspca where staff had prepared their oiled bird room for our arrival.

The pup was successfully tube fed his first fluids by Hugh, Tizane and myself and left to quieten down whilst the next plan of action was made. He had a temp of 38.5 and weighed just 10 kg.

Guernsey were very happy to receive the pup the next day, so after a good night of tube feeding by Hugh Forshaw, Tizane and myself, arrangements were made to fly the pup out before the weather got really bad as predicted.

I wish to thank everyone for there efforts, we thought the whole process went ever so smoothly: Gregory Guida for flying pup out for us at such short notice. The JSPCA for allowing us to use their oilbird room and van to transport the pup to the airport. Geoff George at GSPCA for taking the pup so soon into their care. MMM Tizane Gallichan Tredant and her husband Tim, Jez Payne and Hugh Forshaw. Amy Hall for her assistance and last but not least the golf club for their kindness and refreshments. Unfortunately I did not get the name of the dog walker but thank you for waiting with the fire service for me to arrive. I do believe Henry (named after the fort he was found under) was flown from Guernsey to Southampton this morning (Tuesday) and will be going into care at West Hatch RSPCA in Taunton. He is said to be doing very well.

Good luck Henry x

Donna de Gruchy
BDMLR Regional Co-ordinator for the Channel Isles