- Marine Life
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If you see a seal that may be abandoned, thin or ill, then call for advice and assistance:
BDMLR hotline: 01825 765546 (British Diver's Marine Life Rescue)  
RSPCA hotline: 0300 1234 999

The main number is BDMLR hotline: 01825 765546 (British Diver's Marine Life Rescue)  and I'm pleased to say we have several trained Marine Life medics locally.  The RSPCA inspector has to cover the whole county and coast, we were lucky to get him last time.

Northumberland Wildlife Trust have just issued this statement, 23 October 2014 -

"Now that the first seal pups have started making an appearance along the North East coast, Northumberland Wildlife Trust is encouraging members of the public to be vigilant.

At just a few weeks old, the young pups head off to sea to prepare to live an independent life, however some will turn up on beaches along the coastline as they learn to swim and feed.In circumstances such as this, their mother is usually not too far away and it is perfectly normal behaviour, so the wildlife charity is urging members of the public who spot any young seals basking on the region’s coastline on their own, not to panic and to simply leave them alone.

The biggest risk seal pups face at this time is unnecessary disturbance, so dog owners are asked to ensure that their animals are kept under control and away from any young seals.

Northumberland Wildlife Trust is also asking for help from anyone who may come across a dead seal during a visit to the coast. 

The Atlantic grey seal is a notified feature of the Berwickshire & North Northumberland Coast European Marine Site (EMS), and, because of the international significance of the Farnes population, it is important that numbers are monitored. 

There is growing concern over an apparent rise in numbers of deaths, but this has not been formally monitored.The Trust is therefore working with the Sea Mammal Research Unit at University of St. Andrews, the Berwickshire and North Northumberland Coast European Marine Site (EMS) and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to investigate the cause of seal deaths along the coast. 

Some are shot off the Northumberland Coast, some are diseased and some are thought to die as a result of injuries caused by contact with ship propellers and some of this can be determined by photographs rather than an expensive autopsy.

Should anybody find a dead seal, it would be really helpful if they could contact Aurelie Bohan, Northumberland Wildlife Trust Living Seas Officer on: 0191 284 6884 or email her at Aurelie.bohan@northwt.org.uk with details of the exact location and, if possible, a digital photo of the dead animal to help establish the cause of death. 

Although post-mortem is more accurate, this method will also be valuable and is a cost effective in monitoring the issue.Aureile said: “This sounds like a particularly grisly project but we think it is an extremely valuable approach that visitors to the coast can help with. The Trust receives random reports of dead seals from the public but we hope this will increase reporting rates and help to establish what factors have the greatest impact upon seal numbers.Northumberland is lucky to host such an important breeding population of these animals, a feature that attracts many tourists to the area. The county therefore has a huge role to play in conserving this species and it’s important that we know what if affecting that in both positive and negative ways”.

UK Strandings 
What to do!
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Live Strandings

Dead Strandings

  • Abandoned: If you see a seal with a white, long-haired coat in the autumn/winter, or you see a small seal (less than 3 feet in length) alone between June and August, then it is probably still suckling from its mother. Check the sea regularly for any sign of an adult seal.
  • Thin: Signs of malnutrition include visible ribs, hips and neck and perhaps a rather baggy, wrinkled skin.
  • Sick: Signs of ill health include : coughing, sneezing or noisy, rapid breathing and possibly thick mucus coming from the nose, wounds or swellings, particularly on the flippers, and possibly favouring one flipper when moving (although remember that healthy seals will often lie and ‘hunch along’ on their sides) cloudy eyes, or thick mucus around them, or possibly one eye kept closed most of the time a seal showing little response to any disturbance going on around it (although remember they could be soundly asleep).

RSPCA hotline: 0300 1234 999You will receive further advice over the phone. If there is a problem with the animal, there are some important things you can do to help:
  • Provide information: Give the hotline an accurate description of the seal and its exact location. If at all possible, stay on the beach to guide the rescue team to the animal. This can save valuable and perhaps critical time. If you have a mobile, give the number to the hotline.
  • Control disturbance: Stop other people and their animals from approaching the seal, because - if it is a seal pup that is still suckling, then approaching the pup could threaten the mother-pup bond and the pup may be abandoned seals will react if approached too closely and are capable of inflicting a nasty bite - even the smallest pup can cause serious injury and this is even more of a risk with adults.
  • Prevent small seals from entering the sea: Stand between a pup and the sea and, if necessary, use a board or similar object to restrain it. Under no circumstances, attempt this with adultseals, as you could leave yourself open to injury. You should avoid handling a seal pup at all costs, for the same reason. Under no circumstances allow anybody to push the seal back in the sea. A pup still suckling is a poor swimmer and an older animal may be hauled out for good reason.

RSPCA hotline (England & Wales): 0300 1234 999
SSPCA hotline (Scotland): 03000 999 999
Here is a copy of the advice provided by the BDMLR in the event of a strandingYou will receive further advice over the phone, but important things you can do to help are:
  • Provide essential first aid.
  • Support the animal in an upright position and dig trenches under the pectoral fins.
  • Cover the animal with wet sheets or towels (even seaweed) and keep it moist by spraying or dousing with water, sea water if possible.
  • Do NOT cover, or let any water pass down the blowhole (nostril), sited on top of the animal's head. This will cause the animal great distress and could even kill it.
  • Every movement around a stranded animal should be quiet, calm and gentle. Excessive noise and disturbance will only stress it further. Keep people with dogs away.
  • Estimate the length of the animal and look for any distinguishing feature that may give clues as to the species you are dealing with.
  • Look for any signs of injury and count the number of breaths (opening of the blowhole) that occur over a minute - this can give important clues as to how stressed the animal is.
  • Take great care when handling a dolphin, porpoise or whale; keep away from the tail, as it can inflict serious injuries - this is particularly the case with whales and it is advisable to leave handling larger whales until experienced help has arrived. Avoid the animal’s breath, as it may carry some potentially nasty bacteria.
  • Provide information: Give the hotline an exact location for the animal - this can save valuable and perhaps critical time. If you have a mobile, give the number to the hotlin
  • Give an accurate description of the animal, including its breathing rate, and whether it is in the surf, on rocks or sand, in the shade or in the full glare of the su
  • Information on weather conditions and sea state also can be helpful
  • The hotline should be informed of any attempts already made to push the animal back into the sea
  • Maintain control
  • Keep all contact, noise and disturbance to a minimum
  • Under no circumstances, release the animal into the sea before the rescue team has arrived. It is fine to support a smaller dolphin or porpoise in the water, as long as the blowhole is kept above the water at all times, and as long as it is carried to the water carefully, e.g. in a tarpaulin (do NOT drag it or lift it by its fins or tail). These are delicate and can be broken, resulting in the animal being put down.
  • However, actually releasing the animal before it has received an assessment and first aid from experienced personnel can do more harm than good.

Dead stranded animals should be reported to:

Summer sees the jellyfish coming in - this useful poster has just been displayed by the Marine Conservation organisation - use SHAVING CREAM if you are stung.

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