Baby seal stranded in Ilfracombe Harbour

A seal pup barely a few weeks old was discovered washed up on the beach at Ilfracombe harbour this morning (Monday.) Thought to be a common seal, it appeared healthy enough and attracted quite a crowd, but with the tide a long way out was clearly unable o

A seal pup barely a few weeks old was discovered washed up on the beach at Ilfracombe harbour this morning (Monday.)

Thought to be a common seal, it appeared healthy enough and attracted quite a crowd, but with the tide a long way out was clearly unable or old enough to return to the sea by itself.

The decision was taken to recover the stranded creature and it is currently being checked over at Argyll Veterinary Clinic in the town while awaiting transfer to West Hatch RSPCA centre near Taunton.

Local fisherman Paul Barbeary alerted Ilfracombe Aquarium after the seal was found following the high spring tide this morning, while harbour master's assistant Rick Simpson contacted British Divers Marine Life Rescue, a voluntary organisation whose members attend stranded marine animals around the UK coastline.


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Aquarium owner Lawrence Raybone and aquarist Caroline Berry, went to help and Caroline stayed with the animal to prevent people or dogs from getting too close, since even young seals can deliver a nasty bite when frightened.

Two volunteer marine mammal medics from the BDMLR soon arrived and assessed the situation:

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"They said it was still quite a young pup, with its baby fur, probably no more than six weeks old and still suckling," explained Caroline, who also works at Exmoor Zoo.

"They were quite happy it was a healthy seal and as long as people didn't come too close to him he was fine and quite endearing."

Lawrence said the medics had looked around the outer harbour to see if the pup's mother was nearby, but to no avail.

"They said the ideal scenario would have been a secluded beach and no risk of people getting involved, then they would have left the pup to see if the mother would call it back to the water," he said.

But they said on a busy public beach and with the tide out that just wasn't possible.

Rick Simpson added: "They are generally off Lantern Hill to the back of the harbour but to my knowledge it's the first time any have been inside.

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