Exhausting Seal Rescue by Beachy Head.

Yesterday (Sunday 11th April 2021) East Sussex WRAS received a call about a poorly seal on the beach near Cow Gap Eastbourne. The incident was phoned in to British Divers Marine Life Rescue to check they had not already been called, and they were happy leaving the rescue with WRAS.  Lead Casualty Manager Katie Nunn Nash drove down to investigate further along with her sister Lucy.

When they arrived, they were unsure of the best route to the beach so stopped at the Chaplaincy Office at Beachy Head to ask advice.  By chance, members of the local HM Coast Guard were present who offered to assist Katie and Lucy in getting to the seal.

Following the Coastguard Katie drove WRAS’s ambulance along the cliffs as far as possible for our ambulance before continuing the journey in the Coastguards off road vehicles and finally a walk down to the beach.

The seal had been reported about 300 metres west of the steps at Cow Gap heading in the direction of Beach Head’s Lighthouse.  Working with the coastguard the team slowly and carefully moved their way along the beach watching for the seal.  300 metres came and went, and after an hour of searching, the seal still had not been seen.  Members of the public kept saying the seal was further on until eventually the seal was spotted right up close at the base of the cliff. 

It was clear that the seal needed help and Katie could see it had breathing difficulties and a discharge from its eyes, and blood on its flippers.  Rescuers brought in a large cage, but the seal put up a fight and did not want to go in the cage. Eventually the seal was encourage in, but this was no easy task.

As if rescuers were not tired enough already from climbing over rocks, they now had to carry a 25-kg seal back about 400 metres to the beach access at Cow Gap. Once they achieved this they still had the exhausting job of getting the seal carried back to the waiting ambulance up the cliff and footpath. There was no other way of getting to the ambulance other than to physical carry the cage and seal up the steps and footpath at Cow Gap over another 400 metres to the waiting vehicles.

Rescuers were relieved to finally be back at the ambulance and finally back on the road to WRAS’s Casualty Centre.  This could have been far more difficult and exhausting if it had not been for the coastguards’ assistance.

WRAS founder Trevor Weeks meet Katie and Lucy at WRAS’s Casualty Centre at Whitesmith.  As the former National Co-ordinator for British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) and an advanced Marine Mammal Medic, Trevor assessed the seal.  It turned out to be a juvenile grey seal. Fairly rounded but raspy breathing and mucky eyes and nose.  There were also minor injuries to his flippers too.

The seal was assessed by one of WRAS’s vets whilst being controlled by Trevor who also used a tube to get vital rehydration fluids into the seal’s stomach.   With anti-inflammatories and antibiotics given, the seal was made comfortable for the night.

Monday morning the seal was loaded into a larger cage and transported to RSPCA Mallydams Wood at Fairlight, Hastings where the RSPCA have specialist seal facilities.

A huge thank you to the coastguard for all their help and support and to RSPCA Mallydams Wood for taking on the seal.

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