Recently the Isle of Thanet has seen a high number of seals in need of help along its shores. I’m sharing a few photos of recent rescues and some info on what you can do if you spot a seal that might need help.
While it’s normal for seals to come to shore to rest, especially after stormy weather such as we have had lately, a lot of seals have found their way onto unsafe, busy beaches and many were found seriously injured, entangled, stranded or sick.
The seals in the following photos were all rescued by the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) on the Isle of Thanet in the last 10 days. The photos come, with permission, from Sheila Stone, BDMLR medic.
13th March. Large seal found with an eye injury at Dumpton Gap. The seal has been marked with blue spray so it can be monitered. If you see this seal, the BDMLR are asking to be called on 01825 765546 so it can be checked again.
9th March, injured seal at Sandwich Bay. Wounds on its tail flippers and a high temperature. Was taken to local vets for treatment.
7th March. Large seal with nasty facial injury from fishing hooks and line at Plucks Gutter. A vet was called to remove the hooks and entanglement as well as give antibiotics. The seal was then taken to a quiet beach and released.
7th March, a sick and injured pup found on Ramsgate flints. Had an infected wound on its tail flipper, nasal discharge and difficult breathing. Was taken to RSPCA Mallydams.
If you spot a seal on shore follow this advice from the BDMLR :
Watch from a distance. Don’t approach the seal and try to discourage others from doing so. Warn dog walkers to keep dogs away. Do not try to encourage the seal into the sea as this may stop it from doing what it needs to do on shore – rest.
Things to look out for:
- Abandoned: White, long-haired coat in the autumn/winter or small (less than a metre in length) alone between June and August. Check the sea regularly for any sign of an adult seal.
- Thin: Visible ribs, hips and neck and perhaps a rather baggy, wrinkled skin.
- Sick: Coughing, sneezing, noisy/rapid breathing, mucus coming from the nose, wounds or swellings, cloudy eyes, mucus around the eye, one eye closed, showing little response to disturbance going on around it while awake.
- Entanglement: fishing gear and other debris, monofilament net and line around the neck, flippers and body, wounds from fishing gear and marine debris cutting into their bodies.
In places like Thanet where we have busy recreational and dog-walking beaches as well as harbours, a seal may also be in danger if it finds itself in these areas and may need to be moved to a safer place.
If you see a seal that fits any of the above descriptions, call for advice and assistance:
BDMLR RESCUE HOTLINE:
01825 765546 (24hr)
RSPCA (England & Wales): 0300 1234 999
SSPCA (Scotland): 03000 999 999
USPCA (Northern Ireland): 028 3025 1000
You can also call the BDMLR for stranded whales, dolphins and porpoises, and you can help all marine life by removing line, hooks, net and other debris when you see it on the beach. You can also choose to boycott the fishing industry which is responsible for dumping these things in the water and killing seals as bycatch.
Whilst walking with a friend on Margate Mainsands in October I happened to spot a seal in trouble myself. We called BDMLR and saw the amazing job they did first hand. I didn’t know exactly what was wrong with the seal (if anything) but a lone, young-looking seal on Thanet’s busiest beach didn’t seem right. They advised us on what to do and asked us to wait with the seal, warning others not to get close, and flag down the medic when they arrived. The medic arrived really quickly and immediately recognised that the seal was thin and malnourished, needing to be fed back to a good weight before being released. The seal was then taken to the Mallydams RSPCA wildlife centre for some looking after.
I want to give thanks to the BDMLR for rescuing seals and other sea animals here in Thanet and around the UK. Check out all the good work they do here. I also take my hat off to the local vets and everyone at the Mallydams RSPCA wildlife centre who helped these animals.
Cover photo credit – Josh Jaggard