Holidaymakers and surfers raise the alarm to save stricken animal.

Holidaymakers John Unwin from Cornwall, father and son Alastair and Thomas Watson from Hertfordshire, and Russell O'Brien from Exeter help carry the patient to safety.Holidaymakers John Unwin from Cornwall, father and son Alastair and Thomas Watson from Hertfordshire, and Russell O'Brien from Exeter help carry the patient to safety.

AN injured seal has been saved from the incoming tide after becoming stranded on the beach at Putsborough earlier today (Monday).

The pup, thought to be from a colony of seals regularly spotted at nearby Mortehoe, was unable to swim back out to sea apparently because of an injured flipper.

The drama started shortly after 5am when a jogger spotted the animal floundering on the beach at low tide.

She spoke to surf forecasters from Eyeball Surfcheck who in turn telephoned the West Hatch RSPCA Wildlife Centre at Tanton.

The stranded seal pup at Putsborough. Pic by Trev Lumley of Eyeball Surfcheck.The stranded seal pup at Putsborough. Pic by Trev Lumley of Eyeball Surfcheck.

Two young surfers managed to coax the animal up the beach and away from the incoming tide until help eventually arrived in the form of Diana Lewis from the North Devon Animal Ambulance, who said she had also received a dozen or so calls from members of the public

Diana, who dashed over to Putsborough with colleague Kay Johnson, told the Gazette: "It is very unusual to find a seal on a long sandy beach alone like that and was obviously in some distress.

"It was a long walk down the beach - a good quarter-of-a-mile from the car park. We were faced with a fast incoming tide and a sick seal pup and had to carry a very heavy Vari Kennel and blankets.

"The pupping season is usually in September, October or November so I was expecting to find a very small early pup.

The stranded seal pup at Putsborough. Pic by Trev Lumley of Eyeball Surfcheck.The stranded seal pup at Putsborough. Pic by Trev Lumley of Eyeball Surfcheck.

"Instead, I was shocked to be confronted with a very large young seal. It was about four months old - I would probably guess it was born around March, which is very late for seals indeed."

Diana and Kay were greeted by a group of holidaymakers and surfers who were guarding the seal from dogs, that would have been in danger of being bitten.

"Seals have a very nasty bite and carry E-coli on their teeth - it's not something anyone would want to be bitten by," said Diana.

"In fact a dog would probably come off worse. Seals might appear to be very cuddly creatures but I can assure you that they are not."

The surfers used their surfboards to usher the seal into the kennel and the holidaymakers helped carry the animal up the beach, as well as up about 50 steps.

"It was not easy but we managed it. It was very heavy - 29.5kg - and took us a good half-an-hour to reach the car park, where we then raced it straight to West Hatch in Taunton."

Under closer examination the seal was also discovered to be suffering from an upper respiratory problem.

"We had lots of sneezes and weepy eyes but it is now under the care of West Hatch," added Diana.

"I think it's got a very good chance of making a full recovery thanks mainly to people's vigilance and care.

"It will almost certainly have antibiotic treatment and I would expect that we will be called to collect it and release it back with the rest of the Mortehoe colony as soon as it is ready."