The grey seal pupping season is one of the great spectacles along our shores and each year the coastlines of the Isle of May, Craigleith and the Farne Islands are transformed as the youngsters take over. But sadly each year seal pups can be abandoned by their mothers. We spoke to the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) who told what to do if we come across a seal pup on the beach.

Grey seals live all around our coasts and we are now well into pupping season with pups being born on Craigleith, Isle of May and the Farne Islands. Grey seal pups are maternally dependant on their mother for the first three to four weeks when they will gain weight and start to shed their fluffy white coat, before heading into the water to feed for themselves. Sadly mothers can abandon their pups due to; illness, entanglement in the water, inability to get back to their pups and human interference. 

The BDMLR is the only charity who actively attend rescues and have local medics who can be called upon twenty-four-seven, 365 days per year to strandings of seal pups, beached porpoises, dolphins and whales. They are the first people to call (number below) if you find a marine mammal on our beaches. BDMLR area coordinator Corinne Gordon tells us the key points to remember if you come across an abandoned seal pup. Do not touch the pup – the mother will certainly abandon it, if the pup contains your smell. Keep dogs on leads – if your dog gets bitten, you are looking at an expensive trip to the vet. Do not let children near the pup, however cute they look, seal pups will bite. Do not take selfies with the seal or drag it back into the water, you are likely to get bitten and the pup may drown as their coat is not waterproof until they moult. Give as much information as you can on the location of the pup; landmarks, grid reference or What3Words app. This allows attending mammal medics  to get the exact location and attend to the mammal as quickly as possible. Corinne adds; “All seal pups we rescue on our beaches are given the best of care and taken to a rehab facility where they are cared for until healthy enough to be introduced back out to sea”.

BDMLR was formed in 1988, when a few like-minded divers got together in response to a mass mortality of common seals in East Anglia, to help with the rescue effort in response to the Phocine Distemper Virus epidemic which resulted in thousands of deaths. Seal rescue has remained a major component of their work with medics rescuing animals around the UK. To be able to do this, raising awareness, fundraising and volunteers are vital. Assistant area coordinator and marine mammal medic Suzanne Blyth explains; “It’s an amazing charity, one that I have been involved in for the past few years, taking part in talks, events, raising funds, teaching and being an ambassador for BDMLR wherever I can. We’re hopeful COVID-19 will pass quickly and we can get more of the public involved in what we do, such as taking part in beach cleans which is vital to our environment and its marine wildlife. Stay safe, stay healthy, take responsibility for our area and we will continue to have amazing beaches we can all enjoy.

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