Wednesday 19 December 2018

Rescue with a difference

Dundalk sub aqua save orphaned seal pup

Patricia Finlay and Seamus Campbell with the rescued seal
Patricia Finlay and Seamus Campbell with the rescued seal
The rescued seal.

Margaret Roddy

Dundalk Sub Aqua club made a rescue with a difference recently when they saved a day old seal pup which had been separated from its mother in the waters of Carlingford Lough.

Members of the diving club were returning from a dive out in Lough last month when one of the boasts went for a spin around Greenore port to have closer look at one of the big grain ships which were docked.

'Alongside the ship, we noticed a tiny seal in the water,' says club member Phil Scott. 'It was very vocal and as we got closer we noticed it appeared to be in some distress and was struggling to stay afloat. We made the quick decision to lift the seal into the boat given it was alone and a long distance from where the main seal colonies are based in the Lough out towards the Haulbowline Lighthouse.'

'It was evident straight way that it was a very young pup as it still had the umbilical cord attached,' continued Phil. 'We headed back to Greenore slip and got the boat ashore. At this point, it dawned that it was now our responsibility to get this little guy some help! Immediate contact was made with Seal Rescue Ireland based in Courtown, Co Wexford.'

Thanks to a network of volunteer drivers, the seal pup was taken to the Sea Rescue centre where he was identified as being a male common seal, one day old and approximately three weeks premature given he was still sporting his lanugo coat, normally moulted prior to birth. He was described as being in generally good condition but the centre advised that a common seal pup of this age should be close by its mother, and the fact that it was premature and alone meant it had been orphaned and would not have survived on its own.

'Roll forward one week and he is doing really well, 'bright as a button', with no significant complications so far,' reported Phil.

He has been named 'Noodles' and has received round the clock attention from the extraordinary staff and volunteers at the Seal Rescue Centre.

Given he is still so small, he is in one of the ICU boxes for close monitoring and not yet ready for visitors. Provided all continues to go well, he will remain in the centre for approximately four months before release and there is a potential, subject to adequate resources being available, that he will be released back up in Carlingford Lough.

The Argus