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


2011-11-16 10:40:06

A Few Days of Seal Madness!

Cornish SealI had just finished cleaning my seal cage and left out it out to dry, got in car and headed off out when Dave Jarvis rang and said I was needed on my favourite beach in North Cornwall, 'Strangles Beach' at Crackington Haven. It’s the beach I get calls to a few times each year with the worst climb up EVER!

I met up with Bude medic Andy Crouch and off we went. We saw the pup that was a good healthy size but had a few injuries, terrible diarrhoea and looked rather exhausted. I managed to jump him after a few attempts and we slowly headed up the cliffs. Medic Robin from Wadebridge, who was also helping at Gweek seal sanctuary, met us part way up and helped carry the pup to the top. PHEWWW!!!  A killer! We met a few people en route and one lady in particular who was on a walk to Strangles was a marine biologist (funny that)!

We eventually got the pup into the car and started to head off and meet Dave Jarvis to relay the pup to Gweek, Dave was also picking up a second pup from medic and co-ordinator  Faye Archell from Port Gaverne.  Dave then also rang me and said another pup was at “Strangles”. My whole body was jellified and weak but said we would sort it out. I flashed Robin in the car behind with my hazards  to pull over and let him know the situation, there was another pup back down the bottom of cliff again and we knew we had a short amount of daylight left. The lady who we spoke to en route had clearly found this pup further along the beach that we could not have spotted. So Robin headed back to Strangles and I was also offered help from a neighbour to carry the pup, not knowing if it was going to be too heavy to carry and for everyone’s safety at night.

Once I dropped the first pup to Wadebridge, then travelled back to Crackington to see the second pup. Robin and neighbour Adam, were clearly shattered and when I got there the lads and Kate, the lady who found him was sitting with a tiny young pup who was 2 days old with a very bloody umbilical cord and no teeth. It was a really beautiful, tired and hungry pup. The blood was not heavy but enough to be concerned about. I sprayed with tyramicin and pressurised the umbilical to stop the bleeding by using towels underneath him. I needed to make some rehydration fluids so I banged on the door of a closed restaurant with lights on, who were very kind and opened early for us to give water and assistance. In the end I couldn’t get fluids in the pup as it was so wiggly but also stressed. The guys nicknamed the pup Alice Cooper (personal hero theme). He too was then put into my car and taken down to meet Dave again to head to Gweek. Exhausted and pathetically wobbly we all headed off home. Well done team! Both pups are doing really well and Gweek are as always, working their magic on them. They have been re-named Eva and Marti Pellow.

Cornish Seal 2The next day while I was working I had another call from Tim Bain, area coordinator, who was with Dave Jarvis also arranging the rescue of two pups on the Isles of Scilly. This call was with regards to a pup at Breakwater in Bude. I rang medics Simon Dolphin and Kay Page to check on the pup and monitor it for me, as I couldn’t get away. The first report of the pup that I received was that it was healthy but needed monitoring, it was taking cover in a small crevice in the rocks. Simon rang me and confirmed it had a possible injury to back flippers and was looking tired. Unfortunately time was cut short as the tide was on its way in and Simon and Kay had been keeping an eye for a while, but a decision had to be made. Simon and Kay uplifted pup and took to local vets in Bude, Penbode, to get the flipper checked over. Claire, the vet at Benpode was brilliant and took pup into a tiled, enclosed area in the surgery and confirmed the pup was quite exhausted and did have a possible break and needed expert care. It was now nearly 7pm when vet rang me and explained all. We couldn’t get the pup to West hatch in Somerset until the morning as was a long drive and the seal’s temperature was slightly high, so Simon and Kay kindly offered to make the journey in morning. I headed down to vets to offer my help giving the pup fluids etc. When I arrived, the darling little seal was actually a tiny moulting pup 2 feet long and very underweight, so we gave it some rehydration fluids and Simon confirmed it was a little boy whilst checking temps again.

After settling the pup in its overnight 4 star accommodation at the vets, Simon and Kay made arrangements for transporting the pup in the morning to Somerset.

The pup is now doing well, still on medication and putting on weight slowly. He has been named Gnasher by Simon and Kay, but renamed Blue Topaz by West Hatch.

I would like to say lots of huge thank you’s to all the team, Robin, Andy, my neighbour Adam, I really could not have done the second seal pup rescue without you, so massive thank you to you guys. Kay and Simon, this was their first live seal pup, and I kindly threw them in at the deep end! Sorry you got so wet in the rain. Thanks to Dave Jarvis, who is ALWAYS at the scene when I need him. Thanks also to Kate, the marine biologist for saving the second pup, she wrapped the pup in her jacket to keep it warm and she carried it all the way, what a dear she is. She certainly felt the pain that evening. Thank you Kate! Also thank you Coombe Barton restaurant at Crackington Haven for assisting us with fluids and equipment.

Michelle Robinson
Cornwall Assistant Coordinator

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