We received a phone call on 15 February from Andrew Taylor on Unst – Britain’s
most northerly isle – who had been for a walk on Norwick beach and found a grey
seal pup with monofilament netting “embedded” in his neck.
Jan gave him instructions how to catch the seal, and while he was doing that she
called SSPCA inspector Ron Patterson to organise collecting it from the ferry to bring
it to Hillswick. Ron’s reply couldn’t have been better. He was already on Unst on
another job, so it was no problem picking him up at the Unst ferry terminal.
Meanwhile Jan called the vet to prepare for this seal coming in so they could remove
the netting. As luck would have it their north isles vet Jim Tait was already on Yell,
the island between Unst and the Shetland mainland. He met Ron and Andrew on the
ferry and cut the netting free, and gave the seal a shot of long lasting anti-biotics to
help the wound.
We got a shock when Ron arrived with her. She is this winter’s pup so she must be
between two and four months old, but she must have got caught in the netting at a
very early age, because it had left a wound two or more inches deep almost all the
way around her neck.
She was a very lucky seal to have been found in the first place, and then to have
allowed Andrew to catch her before she made for the water where it would have
been impossible to get hold of her and she would almost certainly have died an
Her luck continued with Ron being on Unst and Jim being on Yell, so there was only
one name we could give her.
Since her arrival we have been using a watering can to bathe her neck with a saline
solution to keep it clean and help it heal. She has now been moved outside into a
bigger pool with salt water to try and encourage her to eat fish, which she has not
been keen to do so far. It’s very important she begins to eat and we hope that being in
the open air will trigger her appetite after all the stress she has been through.
Photo caption: As if the seals don’t have enough problems with licenses being issued
to kill them, people are leaving this kind of lethal netting and other potentially fatal
rubbish in the sea to cause this kind of injury to them an other sea creatures, leaving
them to suffer slow and agonising deaths. Shetland has a great spring clean of all the
beaches every year – Da Voar Redd Up – but still this sort of thing goes on.
Below find all the video clips of Lucky from arrival to release.
lucky arrives in hillswick
Photo courtesy of Ron Patterson Photography