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


2011-12-07 11:18:05

Netted Seal Saved in Cliff Rescue

Netted Seal at GodrevyOn Saturday 03/12/11, Dan Jarvis and Sue Sayer participated in the National Trust's training day for Wildlife Information Volunteers (WIVs) on behalf of Cornwall Seal Group (CSG). After a morning of talks and a brief break for lunch, the group headed out to the coast to look for wildlife, while Sue and Dan headed to the cliff top to check on the seals hauled on the mainland beach. Sue's very first look raised some concern as something looked very wrong with the smallest seal on the beach. Sure enough, on closer inspection through her telescope, it became apparent that this seal of only a few months old, was in fact covered from head to rear flipper in storm damaged or discarded monofilament fishing net.

Abseiling down the cliffSue alerted Dan and after assessing the conditions and likely success of a rescue, Dan
called the local coordinators of British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) Dave Jarvis and Tim Bain. Both made their way to the site, along with Chris, our safety rope man!  Dan and Tim then abseiled down the cliff face.

Stealth needed to creep up on sealsStealth was in order to avoid alerting the netted seal to the presence of the rescuers, who had to get to and across the beach, before the little seal woke up and headed for the sea. The rescuers were so successful in their quiet approach, that none of the seals in the group around the netted seal even stirred, so Dan had to deliberately wake them up! As the group headed seaward, Dan blocked the netted seal's route, grabbing it within the safety of a towel.  De-netting the sealIt took Tim some time to cut through the numerous strands of monofilament around the seal's neck, before he could begin to free its fore flippers. At last, the netting was removed from the seal, who could then be given a once over to assess its health and fitness. It's temperature was taken as an indicator of possible infections and it was placed in a seal bag ready to be weighed.

Once Dan and Tim were satisfied that the young seal had no injuries or infection and that it was a healthy weight, the decision was taken to release the seal straight back into the wild. No sooner was the towel removed from the seal's head, than the seal was off and knew exactly where it was going - straight back into the sea!

Happy seal heads back to seaIt was very rewarding, even for the cliff top team, to see this young seal, probably one of this last season's pups having a second chance back in the wild. It truly sped down the beach, barely did its body touch the sand, much to the bemusement of the adult seal who greeted it in the shallows!

Of course, the most important bit of the rescue was to follow... getting all the rescuers safely back to the cliff top! Well done to everyone involved and thanks to all the well wishers, who on witnessing the rescue offered moral and verbal support! Another great team effort for a very lucky young seal!

Many thanks to all who participated in this rescue.

Sue Sayer
BDMLR and Cornish Seal Group

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