Seal Stranding in Ireland
By Mermaid Ciara
stranded animal posterposter courtesy of British Divers Marine Life Rescue
Seal Stranding in Ireland

Have you ever wondered what to do in the event you come across a distressed seal on the beach?

Mermaid Ciara asked Seal Rescue Ireland for some helpful tips and guidelines to pass onto you guys and this is what they have to say in relation to any seals you may come across.

If you are out on beaches, keep an eye out for seal pups in distress. Stormy weather and rough seas, human activity by means of boat traffic, as well as people and dogs on beaches can sometimes frighten away nursing mothers and inadvertently lead to pups being injured or orphaned.

Do not put the seal in the water. (Injured, sick & newborn pups are on land for a reason).

Do not disturb them – observe from a distance.

Do not touch pups (these animals can bite, and human scent may lead to mothers abandoning otherwise healthy pups).

Keep dogs and children away.

If the pup is on its own with no mum in sight; obviously injured; or if unsure please ring your local Seal Rescue facility or Marine Rescue Facility.

In case of any stranding of marine mammals (seals, whales, dolphins, porpoises etc) first and foremost, seek help. Most countries will have specialist vets and marine biologists that are trained to handle such situations. Your countries emergency number should have that information.

Do not approach the animal, they can be in a distressed state and as such can be dangerous. There tail or fins maybe flapping and these can cause injury to you, so do not put yourself in harm’s way.

Animals may also be carrying diseases that can transfer to you, so if you do touch, wash your hands afterwards, but the best solution to avoid that is to not approach in the first place.

Wouldn’t it just be your luck if you found a whale struggling on the beach and your phone couldn’t get any signal, in this instance the American organisation WDC suggests the following:

  1. Calmly approach to make sure the blowhole (through which the whale or dolphin breaths) is not blocked or underwater. If you can find adequate assistance and you are confident in what you are doing it may be helpful to gently roll the individual onto their front (belly), so that the blowhole is facing upwards (whales and dolphins often strand on their sides) and it is helpful to keep their skins wet with water. However, do not at any point pull on its fins or tail and be very careful not to get water down the blowhole.
  2. Do not drag the whale or dolphin back to the water. This may cause it a serious injury.
  3. Keep people and dogs away - to reduce the stress to which the whale or dolphin is exposed.
  4. Wait for expert help and be very careful as these are large, powerful creatures.

With thanks to Irish Seal Rescue and WDC for helping me to compile this information.

Here are some helpful numbers and remember deceased stranded cetaceans and seals (in any condition) can also be reported, to allow the bodies to be examined to try to determine causes of death and collect other important information. If possible, secure the carcass above the high water mark.

Staff from WDC's North American office in New England volunteer for the Cape Cod Strandings Network (tel. 508 743 9548 to report a stranding) and the New England Aquarium (24hr hotline - 617 973 5247).

England & Wales
If you find a LIVE stranded or injured whale, dolphin or porpoise on the beach or in the shallows, you must act quickly. The appropriate emergency numbers to call in such an event and which can be used 24 hours a day are:

01825 765 546 (BDMLR - British Divers Marine Life Rescue)
OR 08705 555 999 (RSPCA - Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).

If the animal is dead you can call the UK Strandings Hotline (freephone number) on 0800 652 0333 or visit http://ukstrandings.

The appropriate emergency numbers to call and which can be used 24 hours a day are:

  1. 01825 765 546 (BDMLR - British Divers Marine Life Rescue)
  2. 08707 377 722 (SSPCA - Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Hotline).

If the animal is dead then contact the Scottish Strandings Co-ordinator at the Scottish Agricultural College on: 01463 243030 (or 01463 791915 outside of office hours).

Northern Ireland & the Republic of Ireland
The appropriate emergency numbers to call and which can be used 24 hours a day are:

Northern Ireland - 08 0232 381251

Republic of Ireland - 021 904197 or 021 904053

If you find a live stranded seal contact the Irish Seal Sanctuary on:

01 8354370 or mobile 087 2333406