Seal pup interrupts Redcar lifeboat operations
Redcar RNLI volunteers had routine operations interrupted on Thursday 27 April 2017 when a member of the public alerted them to a young seal which had been found sheltering from North Sea storms on the steps of a seaside apartment block.
Trainee RNLI crew member Steve Atkinson was on his way to the lifeboat station for a lifeboat exchange when a member of the public pointed out the seal, perched at the top of the steps leading to the doorway of the Royal Esplanade Apartments. The pup had already started to attract a number of onlookers and was preventing residents of the apartments from leaving.
Steve Atkinson said; ‘I have only been a trainee for a few months so I wasn’t sure how we dealt with this sort of thing. The lifeboat operations manager contacted the British Divers Marine Life Rescue organisation, but they didn’t have anybody available to collect the seal’.
As the RNLI crew were making alternative arrangements, an off-duty coastguard officer who runs a local pet shop passed the scene in their van, which had a dog cage in it.
The seal was coaxed into the cage and then carried across the main road along the sea front and onto the beach.
Once the door of the cage was opened, the seal quickly made its escape and happily made its way into the sea and disappeared under the waves.
Dave Cocks, RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager at Redcar said: ‘ It’s very common for seals to come ashore during rough weather, but this one decided to go just a bit too far for its own good really.
‘It had managed to get itself up a slipway, across the Esplanade and then up the stairs of the apartments.
‘It was quite happy where it was, but the residents weren’t so pleased. Every time they tried to open the door to leave, the seal was snarling and baring its teeth.
‘When the coastguard officer arrived with the dog cage, the rest was easy. The seal didn’t need much persuading to get into the cage.
‘The crew were helped by members of the public to carry the cage back down onto the beach, and as soon as the door was opened it seemed to be very pleased to be going back where it belonged.
‘It even seemed to take a couple of glances back towards us to say “thanks”.’
If a member of the public finds a seal, whale or dolphin on the beach they should not approach the animal. Instead they should inform UK Coastguard and contact the British Divers Marine Life Rescue service on 07787433412.
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.