This afternoon I received a call from a friend because there was a seal pup on the beach in Aberystwyth and he thought it needed attention. I’m no seal expert, but I do have experience of marine mammals from my time working for Sea Watch Foundation. I hoped I would turn up, see a happy healthy seal on the beach and tell folks not to worry. When I arrived at the scene, there was a group of people crowded around the edge of the beach on the south side of the bandstand. Alarmingly, the moment I could see the animal there was a woman bending down to stroke it’s face and I thought that I should try to take control of the situation.
“Is any one here part of a seal rescue operation?”
No was the reply from the crowd.
“In that case, please can I ask you to stand back as you are probably stressing the animal and blocking it’s route back to sea.”
Some people reacted immediately, but others were more reluctant. I totally understand that people wanted to be near this amazing creature, but I felt that in the absence of others it was my place to step in and try to do what was best for the seal.
At the same time I called British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) to seek their advice. I described the size and state of the animal as well as the situation it was in and send over a quick phone picture.
Whilst I was on the phone the small Atlantic grey seal started travelling across the promenade towards the road. I told people to stand on the road-ward side of it to barricade it and to allow it only to travel back towards the sea.
There were lots of other people there who wanted to help, but no-one had heard of BDMLR. I gave out their number whilst I was stood there. One chap called the RSPCA and was told there was no-one available to help. Thankfully, BDMLR came back to me to say that one of their trained volunteers would be with us in fifteen minutes. Fantastic.
Now that we had this news, people were happier to keep back from the seal and we waited in the cold wind for the rescuer to arrive.
In the meantime, photographer Keith Morris was on hand to document the event. You’ve seen some of his pictures here, but you can see more on his Facebook page too.
Hannah from BDMLR was able to collect the seal to be taken off to a animal rescue centre down in Pembrokeshire and she’s going to keep me updated with any news. Special thanks also to my good friend Daisy who I knew was the person I needed to call when I needed a cage to fit a seal in!
So, what do you need to do?
Please do not attempt to touch or pick up the animal.
Call BDMLR. There number is 01825 765546 and you can call this 24 hours a day for any marine life in trouble.
Now, time to book myself on that Marine Mammal Medic Course I’ve been meaning to for so long!