Wildlife Trust Respond To Criticisms Over Dead Seal

The seal pup photographed by Todd Stevens on Tuesday

The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust have said they are not responsible for coordinating the rescue of stranded marine mammals on our beaches.

This follows an incident on Tuesday in which a baby seal, spotted alone on Old Town beach, was later found dead.

Islander, Todd Stevens, says he expressed his concerns about the animal to the Wildlife Trust on Monday, while it was still alive and he, along with others, have posted negative comments about the actions of the Trust on Radio Scilly’s Facebook page.

But the Trust have responded, saying that, while they care deeply about the welfare of our marine mammals, they are not an animal rescue centre, and are not open 24 hours a day to take rescue calls.

However, Jaclyn Pearson from the Trust said their answer machine gives vital contact numbers and advice for those finding stranded mammals.

She says anyone finding a live, stranded whale, dolphin or porpoise should call the British Divers Marine Live Rescue (BDLMR) in Cornwall immediately on 01825 765546 (www.bdlmr.org.uk) who are open 24 hours a day.

The BDLMR will coordinate trained volunteers to check the mammal and assist with any rescue measures required.

If a live seal is found and appears to be in distress, you need to call the National Seal Sanctuary in Cornwall immediately on 01326 221361 who are also open 24 hours a day.

Both organisations will want to talk to you directly to ascertain exact location, symptoms of the animal’s health and general behaviour.

Jaclyn adds that many WLT staff and volunteers, including the islands’ vet, Heike Dorn, are trained as stranding volunteers and they are contacted directly by the BDLMR or National Seal Sanctuary.

She says this is the time of year when seals give birth across the islands and unfortunately some of the pups may become stranded due to various natural factors including rough weather.

Also whales, dolphins and porpoises can become stranded across the islands.

Jaclyn says if a dead marine mammal is found then vital information needs to be gathered from the specimen to ascertain cause of death and threats to population survival.

You need to call Cornwall Wildlife Trust Strandings Network on 0845 201 2626 (www.cwtstrandings.org) who will coordinate volunteers from the marine strandings network to record data and liaise with Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust to contact the correct land owners to remove the body if necessary.

Finally, Jaclyn says these numbers are given on the 24 hour answer phone at the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust office on 01720 422153 and on their website at www.ios-wildlifetrust.org.uk.

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