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


2012-02-15 16:18:52

A Chilly Early Morning Rescue in Essex

Seal on Pier

At approximately 8.15am on Thursday 9th February, my sister Chris and I both received a BDMLR text message alert about a stranded seal pup at Southend-on-Sea at the end of the Pier. Although I was at work, my lovely boss Terry allowed me to just stop straight away and go to help! I met up with Chris calling head office on the way to see if we needed wet suits but were told the pup was on the lower deck at the far end of the pier (a mere 1 3/4 mile walk) and had been seen by the workmen there.

We arrived at the pier and our main concern was that it was our first call out and therefore hoped the seal wasn't injured.  After a ride on the pier train (my children were deeply envious) we were met by the lovely pier staff, kitted out in life jackets and taken down to the lower deck, where the very concerned workmen and lifeboat crew were waiting to show us the seal.  We checked the seal from a distance and it seemed very unconcerned by the fuss however the workmen had been pouring buckets of water over it and it was not best pleased! It was a grey seal (so glad I had my BDMLR pictures), about 4ft long, very plump and obliged us by rolling on its back to show us it wasn't injured. It then moved its flippers, closed its eyes and appeared to go to sleep.

As there was a drop of about 6 feet off the deck we decided to wait for the tide to rise and then see what happened, at this point the seal was more than happy while Chris and I were freezing! As the tide rose, Jeff (as he was named by the workmen) shuffled to the edge, we all waited and then he shuffled back.  At this point his Mum popped her head up nearby so we knew he wasn't alone. Jeff then shuffled back and forward so we tried to keep everyone away from him (not that he seemed bothered) and then he started coming up the stairs towards me and Chris!  I waved my paperwork at him and he responded with a mouthful of teeth and a loud bark. People started to drift away and then he shuffled towards the end of the pier, put his nose in the water, looked at us, slid in and was off!

We felt really privileged to have seen this beautiful seal and his Mum and were so glad that our first 'call-out' had a happy ending. It proved to us that most people are kind, there were moist eyes as the burly workmen were told the seal was fine. The lovely pier staff gave us hot tea, and it’s taught us to always make sure our BDMLR bags are properly packed (we forgot the binoculars).

Viv Bird  
BDMLR Medic – Essex Region


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