Well meaning beach goers are endangering the lives of washed up seal pups by attempting to return them to the sea.
Grey seals were hit hard by the severe storms and sea surge that hit much of the British coast this month, right at the height of the seal pupping season.
The terrible weather could not have come at a worse time for thousands of seals pups that were caught up in the raging seas and separated from their mothers.
In Northumberland, many pups have been washed up on our coastline. But it has emerged that well meaning beach goers trying to help the stranded mammals, are actually endangering them further.
Marine animal rescue organisation, British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), is appealing for the public to contact them if they spot a stranded seal, instead of trying to help themselves.
Seahouses-based BDMLR mammal medic Lyndsey Morris said: “We have had quite a few baby seals found on the beaches along the Northumberland coast. That’s not a problem as us mammal medics are on hand to help. However some people are handling these animals and throwing them back in the sea to almost certain death.”
Many of the pups separated from their mums are not yet mature enough to survive alone. “They are not waterproof at this age, and most of them are not fat enough to survive either,” Lyndsey said.
“We need to let as many people as possible know that if they see a seal on the beach they first and foremost need to stay well clear of the animal.
“Secondly, they should call the British Divers Marine Life Rescue with the location and information.”
The mammal medics have rescued a number of seal pups in recent weeks, including Buttercup, pictured above, who was found at the south end of Beadnell beach.
“She was less than two weeks old and very underweight,” Lyndsey said. Buttercup is now being looked after at Hessilhead wildlife sanctuary, after riding there in style in Lyndsey’s VW Campervan.
Anyone who spots a seal pup stranded on the beach should contact the British Divers Marine Life Rescue on 01825 765546, with the seal’s location and information.