Race Against Time and Tide
to Save Injured Seal Pup

Scientists working on a tiny island in the North Sea abandoned their research to help save the life of an injured and struggling seal pup.

David Livingstone and Ian Greatbatch from Kingston University were working on Scolt Head Island six miles out from Wells-Next-The-Sea in Norfolk.
Together with Claire Mellish from The Natural History Museum, they were studying the formation of ´spits.´

Their research was put on hold, however, when they realised that the pup, since christened Milo, was stranded unable to move on an offshore sandbank which would soon be swallowed by a ferocious spring tide.

They soon found themselves involved in a desperate race against time and tide to get Milo to the Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary where he could receive the urgent medical care he clearly needed.

″He was lying belly up on the sandbank and was clearly in trouble,″ said David. ″The sea was rough that day and waves were crashing in, yet he wasn't making any moves to escape to safety.

″Claire, Ian and I made a stretcher from a tarpaulin and an old fish crate. Luckily I had my waders on and was able to make my way out to Milo through the rising water between the sandbank and the beach.″
Image of Milo with Kirsty Sopp (Aquarist) in the Seal Rescue Centre ″Sometimes, when a seal pup is alone, the mother may simply be away catching food,″ said seal expert Kieran Copeland, from the Sea Life Sanctuary.

″In this case though the three scientists could clearly see that Milo was in real trouble, and their intervention saved his life.″

Once they got him back to the main beach they found he had a bloodied mouth and nose and wounds to both his head and his flippers.

That was when they called the Sanctuary and the rescue mission was triggered, beginning with them having to carry the heavy pup across the dunes to the nearest boat mooring point...before the rising tide made this impossible.
David and Ian fetched Kieran in their dinghy while Claire stayed with Milo. They made it back just before nightfall and Kieran helped get Milo on board.

The spring tide that washed them back to the mainland was so high, they were able to take their dinghy direct to the Sanctuary rescue vehicle - by this time sitting in several inches of water in a flooded car park.

Once in the Sanctuary seal hospital Milo was treated for his injuries and is already a lot perkier.

David, Claire and Ian, meanwhile, feel such a bond with him that they have decided to officially adopt him and thereby contribute towards his care and treatment.

If all goes well, Milo will move out into a convalescence pool in a couple of weeks where he will gradually build strength and stamina and put on weight in readiness to go back to the wild…probably in later summer, early autumn.

″The three scientists will certainly be very welcome to come and watch the seal they helped save swim back to freedom,″ said Kieran.
Issued by the Hunstanton SEA LIFE Sanctuary
For more details, please contact Nigel Croasdale on 01485 533576
Date: 12th April 2010
Photo: Image of Milo with Kirsty Sopp (Aquarist) in the Seal Rescue Centre