Pictures: Bob the stranded seal pup is rescued in King’s Lynn

A stranded common seal thought to be only a week old has been rescued from beside the River Great Ouse in King's Lynn.

The tiny pup, named Bob by rescuing firefighters, was spotted on a mud flat near the Customs House yesterday (Saturday) after the high tide and strong currents separated the youngster from his mother.

Despite his best efforts to re-enter the water, Bob kept beaching himself and a team from the RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre was called at about 4pm.

Vet Mhairi Fleming and vet nurses Kate Price and Zoe Holding found the pup in deep mud at the foot of a steep wall, so two fire crews from Lynn were dispatched to help.

With a large crowd of people gathering to watch, two firefighters tied to ropes were lowered and the pup was scooped up in a towel before being winched to safety.

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'He is now safe and well at the East Winch centre and is the third pup we've had so far this season,' a spokesman said. 'The fire service was fantastic and the rescue only took them a matter of minutes. We are very grateful for their help.'

Staff at the wildlife centre are hoping that this year's intake of common seal pups does not reach the unprecedented number of 121 arrivals recorded in 2010.

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Centre manager Alison Charles has also said the public can play their part in helping the common seals by not rushing in to save a seal that may appear stranded.

'The public are amazingly supportive and helpful when it comes to stranded seals, but we would just remind them to err on the side of caution,' she said. 'If they do find a small common pup on the beach we would urge them not to pick it up but to observe it from a distance, just in case its mum returns. They should also ensure that they keep dogs and people away from it.'

She continued: 'Seal pups need an incredible amount of care to ensure they are fit enough to return to the wild and this involves three-hourly feeds together with careful nursing and monitoring because they are normally very dehydrated and emaciated on arrival at the centre,' she said. For the seals that are extremely poorly we place them on a drip when they first arrive in the hope of combating their dehydration.

'They are also given regular feeds to address the emaciation and, as with all starving animals, the feeds have to be little and often.'

To report a seal in need of help, people should call the RSPCA's national call centre on 0300 1234 999.

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