A dramatic seal pup rescue has been completed in Port Talbot, which an RSPCA Cymru inspector has described as the “most technical” he has ever been involved with.
The seal pup was trapped between heavy rocks and boulders by a sea wall near the town’s steelworks – known locally as ‘Aberavon Pier’.
Access to the seal was exceptionally difficult, and the rescue took significant planning – including detailed consultation with specialists as to what engineering options may exist.
RSPCA Cymru worked with a number of agencies to complete the rescue – including Associated British Ports, Sea-Lift Diving, British Divers’ Marine Life Rescue, RNLI and Neath Port Talbot Council.
Boulders weighing in excess of one tonne had to be moved to secure access to the trapped seal – with an engineer manoeuvring a modular-type specialist lifting gantry to secure access.
RSPCA Llys Nini branch kindly contributed funding towards the hire of the equipment which broke the boulders – helping ensure the seal could be successfully freed.
The circumstances leading to the rescue led to bystanders nicknaming the seal ‘Miracle’.
Once the boulder was moved, RSPCA Cymru acted quickly to safely get hold of the seal with a grasper, and carefully place the animal into a vari-kennel. A detailed welfare assessment was then undertaken of the seal, before being transferred to specialist wildlife facilities in Taunton. A period of rehabilitation will now ensue, ahead of an anticipated return to the wild in the future.
Three RSPCA officers – inspector Nic de Celis, animal welfare officer Andrew Harris and animal collection officer Ellie West – helped bring the seal to safety. The seal was freed shortly after 7pm this evening (7 November).
Inspector Nic de Celis said: “Without doubt, this was the most technical and complex rescue I have dealt with as an RSPCA inspector.
“This poor seal pup was trapped amid rocks and boulders, and access to the animal was exceptionally difficult. A one-tonne boulder literally had to be moved out of the way, before we safely got hold of the seal and did a thorough welfare assessment.
“Fortunately – despite the ordeal – the seal appears unharmed and is now being transferred immediately to specialist RSPCA wildlife facilities in Somerset.
“We’re grateful to the local community for their ongoing concern for this poor seal, which is testimony to how much most people care for animals and their welfare. All at RSPCA Cymru are over the moon that we were able to save the seal – in what was a bit of a miracle for the seal known as Miracle!
“This amazing rescue is another example of the great things we can achieve working together for animal welfare. It was great to work closely with AB Ports, Sea-Lift Diving, RNLI, BDMLR and Neath Port Talbot Council to help this seal.”
A spokesman for ABP, owner of the Port of Port Talbot, said: “Everyone at ABP was concerned about the seal’s plight. We were very happy to support a great team effort to rescue this seal pup and are delighted that this has had a happy outcome.”
If you wish to help the RSPCA complete rescues such as this, you can donate online. The RSPCA are a charity and rely on public donations.