Vet nurse Nicola urges public not to approach stranded marine creatures after rescuing injured seal pup from South Queensferry beach
A veterinary nurse who came to the rescue of an injured baby seal found stranded on South Queensferry beach has urged members of the public to keep a safe distance from marine animals - even if it looks like they may need help.
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Nicola McPhee, who works at Westport Veterinary Clinic’s South Queensferry practice, is undertaking training with the Marine Mammal Medics with the British Divers Marine Life Rescue. She said she was inspired to sign up after having watched the BDMLR deal with a washed up beach whale near her home.
She said: “I love working with animals. This gives me the chance to work with wild animals that otherwise I would never see up close.
“I also spend a lot of my free time at the beach anyway so I really enjoyed it.”
And it meant she was ready to help when she received a call at the end of last year from a concerned walker who had found a poorly seal.
“A member of the public had noticed the seal pup on the beach on its own distressed,” she said.
“They called the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals who then called the BDMLR to ask for the seal pup to be checked.”
Nicola explained that, while seal pups may appear abandoned, there is a chance that they are waiting on their mothers returning with food. This means that rescuers must be sure that a seal pup is in need of help before intervening.
“There were phone calls back and forth to the head office when making decisions on whether the pub needed rescuing or not,” she said.
“The area coordinator organised for a more experienced medic to attend with me, and dropped off a suitable cage for us to transport the seal pup.”
She added that the pup was checked prior to being moved, with the medics having taken into account its age, general condition and injuries.
Following the check-up, the seal was placed into a special bag and carried back to the car.
“The seal pup is now at the SSPCS wildlife centre being cared for until he is ready to be released back onto the coast,” said Nicola.
She also spoke out about the dangers posed to seal pups on the coast and how people can help to protect the young animals.
“This pup was found on a beach that was very busy with people and dogs, which can cause the mother to stay away from the pup and abandon him,” she said.
“Unfortunately the pup needs the mother for food so would have starved without being reported by the member of the public and rescued.”
She added: “Keeping your distance from all marine mammals is the best thing people can do to prevent causing them stress, fear or disturbing them.
“Seal pups often look abandoned but their mothers are in the water getting food and watching from a distance.”
She also warned that seals carry diseases which can be harmful to humans and their pets.
Anyone who is concerned about marine wildlife is asked to call BDMLR on 01825 765546.