The rescue of Lew by the BDMLR

Following a call from a member of the public about a seal pup lying on a public beach in St Ives at about 9:30am on Tuesday 2nd November 2004, the National Seal Sanctuary contacted BDMLR West Cornwall Coordinator Tim Bain and asked him to assess and look after the pup until a member of the Animal Care Team arrived.

At about 11:00am, Marianne Fellows from the Animal Care Team arrived and agreed that the unweaned whitecoat pup was in apparently good health. She recommended that Tim and other BDMLR Medics and Cornish Seal Monitoring and Observation Group (C-SMOG) members keep watch over the pup, as it was on a busy public beach, and also to keep an eye out for the mother if she returned. Having already contacted Cornwall Seal Monitoring and Observation Group Coordinator Caroline Curtis and BDMLR Coordinator Dave Jarvis beforehand, local Medics and C-SMOGgers had already been alerted to a possible watch situation, which was then implemented.
1130 hours: Medic Simon Money joins the watch.

1200 hours: Medic Phil Jarvis arrives at the site. Simon left not long before his arrival. A section of the beach is cordoned off to prevent people and dogs from getting too close.

1400 hours: Caroline Curtis arrives to help with the watch. The pup hasn´t been very active so far and is also quiet. There have been no positive sightings of the mother, although another seal has been spotted in the area.

1500 hours: BDMLR Kent Coordinator Sharon Gisby, who is down here for a week volunteering at the Seal Sanctuary, joins the watch. The pup continues to be inactive. Many members of the public are interested in what is happening. Tim and Phil take a break.

1600 hours: Coordinator Dave Jarvis and Medics Lesley Jarvis, Dan Jarvis and Ian Laird arrive.

1630 hours: A tent is erected for the night shift. Caroline leaves the watch as it begins to get dark.

1645 hours: Rain! The pup appears to be bothered by it and shuffles a few yards to the top of the beach where it huddles against the wall, before moving again shortly afterward a few more yards into the entrance of a small privately owned passageway.

1930 hours: Medics Dan Jarvis and Ian Laird leave. Rain stops. Phil does the rounds at local takeaways.

1800 hours: Fairly dark now and still no sign of the mother. The pup is asleep.

2000 hours: Sharon leaves. The pup re-emerges from the passageway entrance and goes back to where it had been for most of the day to sleep.

2100 hours: Watchers take it in turns to visit the nearby pub.

2130 hours: Tim contacts Marianne to discuss the situation and was advised that the Sanctuary would accept the pup the following morning.

2315 hours: Dan returns for the night shift with a bag of tealights (!)

0000 hours: Dave and Lesley leave the night shifters (Tim, Phil and Dan). No news on the mother. A small, shallow pit is created in the sand near the tent and some of the tealights are lit and put in it (protected from the wind). It´s almost Bonfire Night anyway...

0100 hours: Kebabs!

0130 hours: Due to the wind blowing out some of the candles, Tim makes lanterns out of empty cans cut open and a tealight put inside them. The mother has still not returned.

0300 hours: The pup has woken up and appears to be getting stressed. It starts shuffling around and gets quite noisy. The decision is made to catch the pup and take it back to Tim´s for the rest of the night before taking it to the Sanctuary in the morning. Superficial puncture wounds (bites) are noticed on the pup´s belly.

0900 hours: The pup is taken to the Sanctuary. It is a healthy weight for a pup of 2 - 3 weeks old but would have become malnourished since its mother never returned.


Thanks to everyone who took part in the watch and rescue, your help was invaluable. Special mention and thanks goes to Tim who was there from 9:30am to 3am the next morning watching the pup sleeping for a good part of the watch.


Medic Dan Jarvis
British Divers Marine Life Rescue
West Cornwall

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