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


2011-07-19 10:20:48

Storms bring in Seals on the East Coast

At BDMLR we're always aware that if the weather is bad, there's a greater likelihood of seals needing attention on the beach.  This weekend (16/17th July 2011) was no exception.  Karen Kirk, BDMLR out-of-hours coordinator for the weekend had a very busy time managing call-outs and rescues.

Chichester, West Sussex - Saturday

Karen took a call from a member of the public, who was concerned about a seal in Chichester harbour. He was able to approach the animal without it reacting at all, and described it as poking its head and tail out of the water!   From pictures that he sent, the seal looked bright and alert, and posture wise looked like an okay animal, 'bananaring' as they do.  Our concern was that he could get so close with no reaction, and as it was in water, its condition could not be assessed.

Claire Stares and Charlie Sampson attended and confirmed that the seal was okay.  Seals are canny creatures and it is possible to approach them much closer when they are in their own environment, the water, than it is when they're on land, but we always need to check.

Boston, Lincolnshire - Saturday

Seal, Boston LincolnshireKaren took a call from a Police Community Support Officer who had been alerted to a seal that was hauling out at the rowing club which is on a housing estate, by the river Witham in Boston Lincolnshire.  She had been watching it since Wednesday, but had been told that kids had been seen flinging bottles at it.  The seal has light pink flipper tag, but no number was visible.  The seal was hauled out above the lock gates on the landward side.

Russell New who went to check and although there was no sign of the seal when he was there, he has given the PSCO his number as he lives only 5 minutes away from the area.  Seals often move up rivers, especially in bad weather, and can be seen resting on banks at low water, waiting for the tide to rise so that they can just drop back in easily.  Sometimes they will chase fish up as its much easier to catch them in a confined area than open water, but sometimes they just haul out for a rest.  The concern here was its position above the locks and the proximity to uncaring youths.

Whitley Bay, Northumberland - Saturday/Sunday

Seal pup, Whitley Bay NorthumberlandA member of the public called Karen about a pup at Whitley Bay, described as small and having been chased into the sea by dogs, just sitting on the surf line, not 'able' to go further, and dogs were still on beach.

Michael Sharp, Susan Lewis, and Paul Arnell responded to a bulk SMS. On arrival they split up, as the outgoing tide had created a large beach area. After an initial search, as the area was covered in rocks and kelp beds and the light was fading, the medics were stood down, with Paul offering to search again in the morning.

In the morning, Karen took a call from another member of the public who had been at beach at Whitley Bay, and seen an exhausted looking seal pup in the same location as last night. Paul Arnell attended to find a skinny and lethargic little pup, with a cough. Paul arranged for the pup to be uplifted by the RSPCA and taken to a seal rehabilitation centre run by Mary Carruthers in Tyenmouth. The seal was then transferred by the SSPCA to its wildlife hospital at Middlebank.

Robin Hoods Bay, Whitby, Yorkshire - Saturday/Sunday

Jim from Scarborough Wildlife Rescue called Karen to say he had taken a call from the coastguard t Robin Hoods Bay about a seal pup that was small and "didn't look well". He had no other details, and no phone number of the caller!

The tides were wrong for a check then, but David Wilson was agreed to patrol the area around 9pm when the tide would be better as if this pup was bad, it may just wash up again as tide receded. There was no sight of the pup though,

On the Sunday morning, Karen was called by the RSPCA central control who had taken a call from a member of the public reporting a pup on the beach at Sandsend Road, Whitby. Cue David Wilson again, who was happy to attend.  David got to the beach, but his search showed no pup. After checking that he was in the right place with that day's caller, he decided that the pup had gone back in to the water due to it being a very busy beach.

Low Newton, Northumberland - Saturday

A member of the public who had been walking at a place called Football Hole Low Newton, reported to Karen that there was a young pup there, beside a dead adult.  As it was getting late and there was no response to a bulk SMS, Karen called the RSPCA to see if they had an inspector who could attend, but no-one would be available until 8am in the morning.

On the Sunday, Kevin Redgrave called to say that there was a Grey Seal bull, around 8ft long, decomposing on the beach there.  The local RPSCA inspector called and had been in contact again with the original caller and he had checked the area again but found nothing.

Spurn Point, Yorkshire

Seal pup, Spurn Point YorkshireJoel Taylor phoned in to say he had a call from the Warden on Spurn Point about a small harbour seal pup with either and injured foreflip, or dislocated shoulder. As Joel wasn't in the area, he couldn't attend so Karen put out a bulk SMS and Lisa Wray called to say she and Neil would attend. The warden then called in to say he'd lifted the pup and would meet Lisa and Neil. The pup was also quite thin, so Karen called Swanbridge vets to get it admitted there.

Neil phoned a bit later to say pup had been given antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and fluids, but they are not sure whether injuries are due to trauma, or virus (pox) and the pup would remain at Swanbridge overnight.  Dave Murray and Russell New transferred the pup to RSPCA East Winch on Monday.

Many thanks as usual to all our medics who attend callouts, pick up and transport seals in need.

Stephen Marsh
BDMLR Operations Manager