Grey seal rescued at Scroby Sands off Great Yarmouth
A rescue mission was mounted today after grey seal was spotted off the coast of Great Yarmouth, tangled up in discarded fishing rope.
The wild animal, from a colony living on the Scroby Sands sandbank, was wrapped in heavy netting and suffering from a deep cut around its neck.
A call for help went out after the skipper of the Haven Cruiser seal trip boat, who takes tourists close to the wildlife on Scroby, noticed the seal had not moved in two days. He called the Seal and Bird Rescue Trust (SBRT) who, in turn, called on the Caister lifeboatmen for assistance.
The lifeboat launched at 3.30pm, taking SBRT trustees Daniel Goldsmith and David Carr to the southern end of the sandbank two miles off Yarmouth.
Using specialist equipment they managed to get close enough to the grey seal, believed to be around two years old, and check his condition to determine if he needed to be brought back to shore.
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'We could tell as we approached that something was wrong because it was at the back of a colony of about 30 seals and that's a sure sign something is a miss,' said Mr Goldsmith.
'It's often difficult to get close enough before the seals head back in to the water, but this time we could help.
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'The netting was wrapped quite tightly around his neck like a collar and it had started to cut into the layers of blubber. There wasn't a lot of blood, but it had cut quite deep.
'Apart from that he was in good health; he was strong and lively.
'Seals are quick healers so, fortunately, there was no need to bring him back on the boat. It's much better that way because if we have to take the animal out of its natural environment it will take time to readjust when it's eventually released back.'
Mr Goldsmith said grey seals - powerful creatures that can grow to 2.5metres in length and weigh up to 250kg - often sustain far worse injuries fighting with each other.
On this occasion, they applied a small amount of antiseptic to help the seal on the road to recovery before letting him make his way back into the water.
'It was a real group effort and quite an unusual call out for us,' added Mr Goldsmith, thanking the crew of the Haven Cruiser and Caister lifeboatmen Tommy Williams and Andrew Turner for their help.
The fishing net was brought back to dry land to ensure it does not harm any more wildlife and weighed in at between 10kg and 15kg.
While it is not uncommon for the wildlife charity to get reports of animals trapped in nets and rope, it is difficult for them to intervene if the animal is out at sea.
•To report injured or sick seals or wild birds, call the SBRT, based at North Walsham, on 01692 650338.
•Follow the link in the top right corner for a video of the seal being released or log onto www.facebook.com/caisterlifeboat.