A seal which was found stranded on a Seaford beach last weekend tragically had to be put down.
Wildlife rescuers received a report of a healthy, four-foot seal sunning itself just east of the Hope Gap Steps, which are located just west of the Cuckmere Haven at Seaford. A second report came in half an hour later reporting a seal injured on the beach with blood on its rear flippers .
Trevor Weeks, of East Sussex Wildlife Rescue Service, was called out along with the out-of-hours officer from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue. Trevor said, ”On arrival we found Sussex Police on site due to concerns for public safety.
“We were rather surprised to find a seven-foot long 250kg adult grey seal which do not normally haul out on the East Sussex coast line. The seal was also a long way from the tide and had hauled out at the high tide mark which is unusual for an adult. Unable to get a vet on site Sunday night, the seal was monitored till dark for the animal’s and public safety, and volunteer medics returned at first light on April 29 where after a search of the area was found quarter of a mile west of the steps at Hope Gap.
“The location was even more problematic and difficult to get to. We could not get the vet out quickly enough before the tide came back in. “Medics returned a couple of hours after high tide to start searching for the seal which was so high up the beach it was at first missed. Once found very close to the Hope Gap steps, Alan Knight was called and attended on site after picking up a vet and vet nurse from Beachwood Vets in Seaford. After a joint assessment of the seal it was decided the seal was clearly ill, a visible pelvis showing it was well underweight, the eyes showed signs of cataracts, and the seal was allowing people to go close enough to touch it as its vision was so poor.
“There was no chance of rehabilitation. There were numerous abrasions and wounds from the rocks from where it had hauled out each time. “This is not the same seal as has been seen in the local rivers recently.
Trained medics from British Divers Marine Life Rescue and East Sussex Wildlife Rescue jumped the seal which put up some resistance at first but quickly gave in. The vet then sedated the seal before putting it down. Trevor said, “A healthy large adult grey seal would normally be impossible to catch.”
Firefighters and Newhaven Coastguard organised the removal of the seal, placing it in a body bag and winching it up the steps on a stretcher. Rescuers spent more than 30 hours from start to finish dealing with this case. Trevor said, “We would like to express our thanks to everyone involved for all their hard work.”