Joint Press Release with NSS, RSPCA and BDMLR
6th October 2005
Public urged to leave baby seals alone


Following two incidents on the same day (3rd October 2005) when seal pups were disturbed by members of the public, three welfare organisations are urging the public not to touch newborn seal pups.

The RSPCA [1], National Seal Sanctuary [2] and British Divers Marine Life Rescue [3] are all calling for members of the public not to touch young seal pups.

In one incident, at Baggy Point near Croyde in North Devon, a newborn grey seal pup had been noted by a National Trust warden on the morning of the 3rd October 2005. Unfortunately a member of the public found the animal and picked it up, assuming it had been abandoned. However, the mother of the pup had been sighted nearby earlier in the day. Once the pup was touched and moved, it had to be collected and transported to the RSPCA’s wildlife hospital at Taunton where it will be reared and eventually released back to the wild.

RSPCA [1] Inspector Tony Woodley said, “As soon as I heard about this seal pup I immediately attempted to contact whoever was at the beach and request them to leave the pup alone, but it was too late. Grey seal pups are being born around the coast of the South West now and for the first three weeks of their lives they appear helpless, but in fact they are usually under the watchful eye of the mother seal. Grey seal females often feed the pup at four-hourly intervals and will retreat to the surf in between.”

Meanwhile, at a cove near Tintagel on the North Cornwall coast, another seal pup had been noticed by a member of the public. This pup was also picked up and moved some distance. Unfortunately by the time that staff at the National Seal Sanctuary were able to advise the person over the phone, it was too late. The very young pup had disappeared into the water and it is not known if it will be reunited with its mother.

Dr. Glenn Boyle of the National Seal Sanctuary [2] said, “This is a very unfortunate incident and a young seal’s life was put at risk. We urge members ofthe public not to pick up seal pups they find.”

Anyone who finds a seal on the beach is asked not to approach it and to keep dogs and children under control as seals have very sharp teeth. If anyone wants further advice about whether the seal is OK or needs assistance, please call one of the rescue organisations.” continued Glenn.

If members of the public wish to find out more about what to do if they find a seal or any other marine animal, they can train as a Marine Mammal Medic with the country’s largest marine animal rescue volunteer organisation, B.D.M.L.R. [3]

Lissa Goodwin, Devon Coordinator for BDMLR said, “Members of the public should not approach seal pups and should call us for assistance. If they would like to train as a Marine Mammal Medic, give BDMLR HQ a call or check the charity’s website. Last year over thirty BDMLR Medics took turn in watching over a mother and baby seal at Hope Cove in South Devon. The pup was born on a public beach and we all marvelled at the fabulous views we were treated to as the pup grew up and eventually left the cove.”

“We cannot watch over every seal pup like this, so please do not touch these vulnerable pups but ask for help and we will get a trained person to attend and see if the animal really does need help.” continued Lissa.

Anyone who finds a seal is asked not to approach it and if concerned about its welfare should call British Divers Marine Life Rescue on 01825-765546, the RSPCA on 08705 555999 or, if in Cornwall, the National Seal Sanctuary on 01326 221361.

- ENDS -


Editors Notes

Interviews available with:

Tony Woodley (RSPCA) – 07714 717858 available in Devon area

Dr. Glenn Boyle (Seal Sanctuary) – 01326 221361 at Gweek, Cornwall

Lissa Goodwin (BDMLR) – 07733 405707 at Plymouth

Photos:

Images of ‘Pupwatch’ seal pup and mother available from www.richardaustinimages.com
or www.southwestimages.co.uk (search : seal)

Video of seal pup and mother at Hope Cove 2004, taken by both BBC Spotlight and Carlton TV.

BDMLR 2004 Pupwatch web page: www.bdmlr.org.uk/pages/Pupwatch.htm


[1] RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal): www.rspca.org.uk

[2] National Seal Sanctuary www.sealsanctuary.co.uk/corn1.html. The National Seal Sanctuary is Britain’s leading centre for the rescue of grey seals. Each year the sanctuary receives more than 100 calls and will rescue up to 50 seals during the winter season. Over the last 47 years the Sanctuary has rescued, rehabilitated and released over 1000 seals back to the wild.

[3] British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) is proud of the fact that it is an entirely voluntary organisation (registered charity: 803438). BDMLR was formed by a group of divers in 1988 in response to the deaths of a large number of seals in the Wash area of East Anglia. It is now a committed 24 hr rescue service. BDMLR now train over 300 Marine Mammal Medics a year and have 20 whale rescue pontoons located at strategic points throughout the UK waiting to help stranded whales and dolphins. There are over 3000 volunteers nation-wide. For more information visit www.bdmlr.org.uk


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