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Stranded seal pups rescued off the coast of Thanet and Herne Bay


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Specialist animal rescuers have had to help two seal pups in Kent this weekend after they became stranded on beaches.

This afternoon marine conservation volunteers have rushed to the aid of a baby seal at Herne Bay.

The stranded seal pup in Dumpton Gap, near Broadstairs Picture: Dan Evans
The stranded seal pup in Dumpton Gap, near Broadstairs Picture: Dan Evans

Yesterday, a similar rescue saw a seal pup taken from the beach at Dumpton Gap, between Broadstairs and Ramsgate. It is now in the care of the RSPCA who will release it back into the wild when it has put weight on.

The drama in Thanet attracted attention on social media.

And Sheila Stone, of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) charity, said returning them to the sea is the worst course of action and that a specialist procedure should be followed when pups are found stranded.

This time of year is the birthing season for grey seals and pups are set free from their mothers when they are just two-three weeks old.

Mrs Stone, an unpaid volunteer who is also Kent out of hours rescue co-ordinator for the BDMLR, added: "Some may struggle to feed themselves and lose weight and get weaker and end up on our beaches.

Volunteers from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue attempt on another rescue Picture Marica Brunger
Volunteers from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue attempt on another rescue Picture Marica Brunger

"If they still have their white coat, this will absorb water and if they are underweight they will not have their blubber layer and these things mean they could sink or get hypothermia.

"Dogs must be kept away. This is not just for the sake of not scaring the seal, but seals are wild animals and they will not attack, but they will act in defence. So if a dog goes for it, they could be injured.

"Seals also carry certain bacteria which could result in dogs getting ill if they get too near.

"There is a perception the seals need to be back with their mother, but this is not the case - mothers abandon their pups. And while seals do live in colonies in the sea, they are solitary/nomadic creatures and don't need to be living among friends."

Instead, if anyone spots a beached seal pup, a specialist animal rescue organisation should be called. BDMLR medics are fully trained for such incidents.

Photographer Jessica Swadling captured Bradley the seal chilling on the side of the River Medway on his extended stay in the town last year Picture: @JessicaSwadlingPhotography
Photographer Jessica Swadling captured Bradley the seal chilling on the side of the River Medway on his extended stay in the town last year Picture: @JessicaSwadlingPhotography

The Dumpton Gap seal was taken to the RSPCA Mallydams Wood base, in Hastings, where it will be cared for.

It only weighed 12kg and it will be kept in the rehab base until it reaches between 35-40kg and will then be released.

Grey seals' birthing season runs until March and from the end of May to the beginning of June it is the season for common seals, such as those found in the River Stour, to give birth.

The BDMLR charity was also responsible for trying to move on a seal, called Bradley, who spent several weeks swimming along the non-tidal part of the River Medway, between Aylesford, Maidstone and Allington.

Bradley eventually decided to swim back to the sea through Allington Lock.

Bradley the seal makes their way through Allington Lock near Maidstone to enter the tidal section of the River Medway. Picture: Environment Agency
Bradley the seal makes their way through Allington Lock near Maidstone to enter the tidal section of the River Medway. Picture: Environment Agency

If anyone spots a stranded seal, the BDMLR rescue hotline is 01825 765546.

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