Seal becomes stranded after trying to escape onlookers

Three volunteers from Sunderland RNLI and one from British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) joined forces to save the life of a young seal pup that had become trapped beneath large boulders that form part of the river’s defences close to Sunderland Yacht Club.

The rescue mission was launched on Friday, 19 March when Clive Fallon, a volunteer Helmsman at Sunderland RNLI, witnessed the young seal fall between the large boulders when trying to escape from two members of the public who approached it in on the rocks.

Clive Fallon said: ‘After looking at the position of the seal, I immediately realised that it needed help to get free from below the rock armours. After speaking to an advisor at BDMLR, I was advised to remain with the seal and await the arrival of one of their volunteer marine mammal medics.’

Shortly after 5pm, Clive was joined at the scene by Becky Ferry, a volunteer BDMLR marine mammal medic from Plains Farm, Sunderland, and two RNLI colleagues, Paul Nicholson, and Anthony Jobling.

After almost an hour the team managed to attach a line around the seal and pull it clear from beneath the large rocks.

Clive added: ‘Our volunteers worked alongside Becky who used her specialist marine mammal training to ensure we did not scare or hurt the young seal pup during the rescue. Unfortunately in this case, the members of the public who initially approached the seal scared it causing it to fall between the boulders and become trapped.’

The British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) issues the following guidelines to members of the public if they discover a seal that they are concerned about:

‘If you find a live seal watch it from a distance. Do not approach the animal. Seals regularly haul out on our coasts – it is part of their normal behaviour. Therefore, finding a seal on the beach does not mean there is necessarily a problem. A healthy seal should be left well alone.

‘If you see a seal that may be abandoned, thin or ill, then call for advice and assistance on the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) hotline 01825 765546 or RSPCA hotline 0300 1234 999. You will receive further advice over the phone.’