COUNTY NEWS: Public rallies to rescue injured seal pup on beach

A member of the public swam to the rescue as he helped save an injured seal pup on a Sussex beach.

Saturday, 5th August 2017, 4:26 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 4:19 am
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The animal was first spotted lying on the beach at Wish Tower, in Eastbourne, at about 8.30am this morning (August 5).

East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) sent rescue coordinator and British divers marine life rescue medic Chris Riddington to help the injured pup.

He said: “As I approached I could see it was underweight and acting abnormally, as I got closer it returned to the water.

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“I continued to monitor the seal and keep the public away, on a busy sunny day on the seafront it was easier said than done.”

The seal went from beach to beach edging closer to Holywell but it didn’t come far enough up to attempt a rescue.

Chris said: “I called BDMLR national coordinator Stephen Marsh and the helpline to get further advice and request more medics attend.

“It was a game of patience and I hoped the opportunity would arise that it would be far enough up the beach to cut off its escape root and not evade capture.”

Whilst waiting for other medics Chris was joined by a member of the public who offered to swim out to sea and approach from the water towards the seal.

“This is not our normal approach and something I was a bit worried about trying in case we spooked the seal and we lost it completely,” Chris said. “I went as close as I could and tried to assess it’s condition better and realised he had a lot of blood coming from it’s muzzle. At this point I decided to take the guy up on his offer and attempt it.”

The passer by stripped down and swam out to sea. He swam in line with the seal before starting to swim towards it.

Chris meanwhile walked along the groyne with a net and towel and whilst the seal was distracted by the approaching swimmer managed to edge closer and closer.

Eventually the swimmer spooked the seal far enough up the beach that Chris could catch it.

“Communication and team work were crucial. It was all about timing. If the swimmer had come out before I was in position or I had approached if he wasn’t close enough it could of gone wrong.

“It was incredible team work that really paid off.”

A few other members of the public helped pop the seal in a cage and it was whisked away for treatment.

It has now been transferred to RSPCA Mallydams in Fairlight.

Chris added: “I just want to say a huge thank you to the gentleman that swam out to help me with the seal today, with dog walkers and members of the public filling the beaches it made it quicker for us to extract the seal and get it to safety.

“Thank you to all of the members of public on site that stayed off the beach, kept dogs on a lead and helped me load the poor seal on to the ambulance, it was so nice to see a community pulling together to help and injured animal.”