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RNLI Port Talbot gets diverted from New Year's Day training to seal rescue

Lifeboats News Release

RNLI Port Talbot volunteers, while carrying out normal Sunday morning maintenance despite it being New Year's day, were contacted by concerned members of the public who attended the station with reports of a distressed seal pup nearby.

Holly Seal

RNLI/Ceri Jeffreys

Holly Seal

Rachel Thomas Deputy Launch Authority said, 'I started my duty launch authority shift at midnight thinking that with most still recovering from the night's festivities, it would be a quiet start. Little did I know what was about to take place when the first member of the public attended the station. With no standard operating procedure for seal rescues, my training kicked in with an dynamic risk assessment.

'The tide was on the flood, and the beach was full of people and dogs, with a New Year's Day swim event just about to start. Following procedure, I called HM Coastguard who were able to provide the contact details for the RSPCA. They agreed to dispatch an officer but couldn't provide an estimated time of arrival.

'I took the decision to divert a member of the shore crew to protect the seal from dogs and curious members of the public while we waited for professional help to arrive.'

The remainder of the volunteer crew continued their maintenance duties, ensuring the lifeboat and all launch equipment was ready for service. Already, 2023 had demonstrated that this wouldn't be expected quiet start to our Saving Lives at Sea year .

Once this was complete all available crew volunteered to a create safe cordon around Holly the seal (as we had named her) until help arrived.

With the tide fast approaching, the RSPCA inspector arrived with our colleagues from HM Coastguard who had also volunteered to assist carrying Holly the seal from the beach. As soon as Holly had been safely transferred into a specialist carry all, she was then carried to the waiting vehicle for her journey back to safety.

Rachel continued, 'After this morning, who knows how the rest of my shift will go but you sign up to volunteer and train with the RNLI so you're prepared for all eventualities, 24/7 and 365 days a year. This was an unexpected - but lovely - start to our new year as a station!'

All at RNLI Port Talbot wish Holly a rapid recovery and release back into the wild.

RNLI/Ceri Jeffreys

RNLI/Ceri Jeffreys

Holly seal safely delivered

RNLI/Ceri Jeffreys

Holly seal safely delivered

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 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and 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.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.