‘A very lucky selkie indeed’ – Rescuers free seal from netting 

The rescue of a young seal from netting washed ashore has again highlighted the dangers of marine litter to wildlife.

Bronagh Goodlad was walking her basset hound Pudding on Wester Quarff beach on Tuesday when they came across the tangled pup.

Unable to free the distressed creature, she called for help from Ailish Parham, who lives close by.

Although they managed to cut away much of the net, a tight section around the pup’s neck proved too tricky to shift.

After calling Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary for advice, owners Jan and Pete Bevington asked experts Ryan and Sara Leith to assist.

Mr Leith, an experienced diver who has helped the sanctuary with rescues in the past, said the seal was clearly distressed.

“It couldn’t move and was totally wound up in a huge piece of netting,” he said.

“It wasn’t going anywhere, that’s for sure.”

Mr Leith covered the seal’s head and teeth with a towel, while his wife cut the rest of the net away.

Free at last, the seal slid off into the sea, apparently unharmed by its ordeal.

Mr Leith, an award-winning photographer, warned that seals can be dangerous and should not be approached, other than by experts.

“They’re wild animals and a bite can be quite serious,” he said.

“If anyone comes across a seal they shouldn’t try to free it themselves – it’s better to call for help.

“You wouldn’t want to be dealing with the business end of one.”

After watching the seal swim off, they hauled the offending net up the beach for removal.

The rescue is just the latest encounter highlighting the dangers of discarded fishing gear on wildlife.

Mr Leith, who is port controller at Lerwick Port Authority, said it was an ongoing problem.

Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary posted its thanks to the rescuers for their team efforts in saving the young seal’s life.

“A very lucky selkie indeed,” the sanctuary said.

“Far too many of our marine creatures are never able to free themselves from these floating death traps and suffer terribly.

“All the more reason for us all to focus our minds on keeping our shoreline as clear as possible of debris whenever we come across it.”

Ms Goodlad added: “I’m glad we found it and it is now okay.”


Add Your Comment
  • Adrienne McClymont

    • January 5th, 2022 20:34

    Beautiful and heartwarming story about the seal. Sadly the short video will not play. Even so I was impressed with the care and humane efforts by the locals. Being an island – though of course much much larger – in Australia we see similar threats to marine life. Sadly we also get whale beaching, one having occurred just in the last few days on the north coast of where I live. A great loss, still not well explained. Thanks again for this positive news item.
    Adrienne McClymont,
    Sydney, Australia


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