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


2012-08-07 09:51:36

New BDMLR Moray Seal Holding Unit operational

Following the sad closure of the Highland Seal Hospital and the downgrading of the facility to a holding unit, we have created another holding unit in our back garden.  This will enable us to hold seals picked up from within the Grampian and Moray area overnight and give them fluids prior to onward transportation to their rehabilitation centre.
The unit would not have been possible without the support and sponsorship from various people.

Firstly our sponsors - the pens were donated by Jim Hardisty of All Pallets Ltd and the connections, bends and piping were donated by Neil Hadden plumbing and Heating, Elgin.

None of this would be of any use without gaining the skills, knowledge and experience to use them in a manner fitting the protocol of seal rehabilitation. To that end I would like to save the best for last and thank Jamie and Heather Dyer for their dedication to pass on the required skills to what must have been their most challenging students, Michelle and I. We've spent many weekends, Bank Holidays and the odd week here and there 'helping out' at the BDMLR Highland Seal Hospital under the guidance of Jamie, and on occasions Heather.  We were eventually deemed competent to go solo when Viking, a grey seal pup came in last year and using skills acquired he was tubed and given vital fluids.

We will endeavour to continue to maintain the exceptional standards instilled in us by two very special people. The unit is ready to go and has all the required medical equipment. Although we are hoping for a quiet season it is comforting to know when the pups start to come in, we have a facility to care for them and help them on their journey towards release.

And now.... the seals start to arrive!


Hopeman & Cullen Seals Report.

Saturday 4th August

I was in town and received a call from Karen, the out of hours coordinator, telling me that Nigel Gunter from Hopeman had called about a seal pup he had spotted on the beach that looked small and weak and as there was a wedding taking place on the beach that afternoon he was concerned about it.  I returned home with a friend and neighbour Dawn McMonagle who offered to help look for the pup, collected a seal box and my grab bag and headed to the beach.  We searched for about an hour, but we couldn't find the pup and agreed to check again later.

Whilst leaving the beach we were met by Claire, Finn & Gerry Gillespie with Lorraine, Olivia & Lucy Griffin who had also reported the pup, they showed me a photo they had taken and I told them I felt it had to be picked up as it was thin and appeared dehydrated. They were going for a walk and said they would keep an eye out for the it so I gave them my details and asked them to call if they found it, but I would look later anyway.  Dawn and I then headed for Aberdeen.

About an hour later, Gerry called me to say the pup was back on the beach. I asked if they could keep people away and we would get there as quick as we could.  When we got there Gerry and his band of beach marshals had done a great job of keeping the pup, now named Speckles, safe and free from disturbance.  I caught Speckles and put him in the seal box, ready to take him to the newly commissioned Moray Seal Holding Unit, located in our back garden.  As we were about put him in the car Karen called me again to say she had another seal pup on Cullen Beach, that had been found by 4 year old Oliver Nicholls and his mum Kayleigh.  I called Kayleigh  and told her I would come out but I was dealing with another pup and due to the distance and that I needed to get fluids into Speckles, I wouldn't be able to get there for at least an hour and a half. Thankfully she said she would wait until I got there.  We loaded Speckles and took him home, where Dawn gave me a hand to settle him in and give him fluids.

I headed out to Cullen with a slight detour to WDCS at Speybay to pick up Mercedes Powell, a volunteer and BDMLR medic.  We arrived at Cullen but due to the pup's location we had to park the car and walk down to the beach via the golf course and over the rocks, so we decided to take the seal bag and transfer the pup into the seal box when we got back to the car. On arrival at the beach we found a tiny pup, very dehydrated and malnourished. Mercedes did a great job of jumping the pup so we could put it into the bag. As Oliver is mad about Puss in Boots, he decided to call the pup Whiskers in Boots.

We carefully climbed back over the rocks onto the golf course and up the bank to the car, loaded Whiskers and set off for home, dropping Mercedes back at WDCS on route.  At home I put Whiskers into pen No 2 and gave her some fluids.  I was concerned about her condition, the lack of energy and was not sure what the outcome might be.  I still had to get to Aberdeen so I got showered and set off, returning about 5 hours later in time to give some more fluids and finally at half past midnight I could go to bed.

Sunday 5th August

I had set the alarm for 7:00 got up and anxiously went to the holding unit, thankfully both pups were OK and Whiskers had made a vast improvement.

I contacted Karen who had spoken to Colin at the new SSPCA Wildlife Rescue Centre, near Alloa, who had agreed to take them.  I told her I would leave about 11:00am and should be there for about 2:30pm.  I loaded the pups into the car with the help of Gerry and the beach marshals who had called in to say goodbye to Speckles.  I arrived at the SSPCA and was greeted by Colin and his team, who welcomed me in and we carried the pups through to their new home for the next few of months, an impressive facility indeed. After accepting the kind offer of cup of tea I set off for home.

I would like to thank all those who helped out in these rescues, thanks for caring enough to pick up the phone or hang around on a beach waiting for me to get there, thanks to Mercedes for helping to pick up Whiskers in Boots, thanks to Colin and the girls at SSPCA,  for Jamie for constantly be at the end of the phone in case when I needed advice, and a special thanks to Dawn for having her shopping day trashed but more importantly for looking for speckles with me and helping with the very first guests to stay at the Moray Seal Holding Unit.


Martin (Boonie) Boon
BDMLR NE Scotland Training Coordinator
BDMLR Moray Seal Holding Facility

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