CHARLIE was rescued on 12th June 2004

At around midday on the 12th of June 2004, the animal care team took a call from a member of the public about a young grey seal badly entangled in fishing net hauled out at a Cove near Godrevy. The seal had first been sighted some three weeks previously and Cornwall Seal Monitoring and Observation Group (C-SMOG) had been tasked with maintaining a watching brief for it.
The British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) team West Cornwall joint Coordinator Dave Jarvis agreed to go to the site immediately to assess the situation and the possibility of a rescue operation. West Cornwall BDMLR´s other joint Coordinator, Tim Bain was advised of the situation and commenced collection of equipment, whilst Dave and Dan Jarvis (a volunteer at the National Seal Sanctuary) drove the short distance to Godrevy.

Arriving at the site, the seal was observed through a telescope and could be seen lying amongst rocks at the far end of Mutton Cove, the thick green net caught around its neck and abdomen could be clearly seen. Unfortunately, with high tide at around 2.20pm, it was very likely that the seal would take to the water once it reached it. Approximately half an hour later, the seal duly turned and entered the water.
For the next hour, the young seal ´bottled´ in the water just offshore and remained fairly inactive. Tim Bain, Medic Gary Hawkins and Medic Caroline Curtis (who is also a volunteer at the National Seal Sanctuary) arrived during this time.

At approximately 2pm, the seal decided to swim back to the shore and haul out in the same place where it was first spotted, and it was decided that only a small group would be able to go down onto the isolated beach, so that the seal did not detect the rescue team and go back into the water.

Tim, Gary and Dan gathered rescue equipment and slowly but safely descended the path into Cove. In the meantime, Tamara Cooper from the Sanctuary arrived with Amanda, who was a volunteer at the sanctuary that day.
Charlie - photo by Dave Jarvis
Once at the bottom of the path, all equipment not essential to the initial capture was stowed safely at the base of the cliff. Tim moved directly towards the seal, while Gary and Dan went around to the left along the current tide line to cut off the seal´s escape if it tried to get back out to sea. Moving closer still, the seal became aware of our presence and began to move off. Tim sprung into action and caught the seal in the towel, shortly followed by the seal stretcher net as well.
Tamara, assisted by Gary, started to cut off the the net from around the seal´s neck and treat the wounds while Dan took Charlie´s temperature with a digital thermometer. During the wait for the Coastguard to arrive and set up their equipment, Tamara instructed Amanda and Dan to pour some water on the seal´s hind flippers to help stop the seal overheating.
When the coastguard arrived, they carried the seal up the cliff between them to stop the seal from being scraped on the cliff face, Charlie was then transferred to a cage and loaded it into the Seal Sanctuary van, and taken to receive further treatment at the Sanctuary.

A great effort by all involved. Thanks to the BDMLR members who assisted in the rescue, and a special mention must go to Portreath Cliff Rescue Team, to whom we are indebted for getting the seal out of the cove. We would also like to thank Dan Jarvis for allowing us to use part of his BDMLR report on the rescue, and Dave Jarvis for the photo of Charlie.
Charlie Update: 24th June 2004 - Charlie is doing very well and his wound is healing quickly, he was originally named Nettle, but is now called Charlie after being re-named by singer/songwriter Tori Amos after the late Ray Charles.

Update: 2nd July 2004 - Charlie is now off all medication and his wound has nearly healed. We will be introducing him to water over the next couple of days so that he can start his swimming lessons.
Update: 8th July 2004 - Charlie has now been moved from the hospital. He was making so much noise we thought seeing other seals might calm him down, but it has had the opposite effect and he is now continuing to make a racket and wants to be with the residents in the convalesce pool, unfortunately he cant go in until his wound has healed.
Update: 25th July 2004 - Charlie and Sweet Pea were both released from Gwithian on the 23rd of July 2004. Charlie made a dash for freedom but Sweet Pea was more reluctant to go and has been spotted lurking around in the shallows.

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