A dramatic seal rescue – labelled the “most technical” ever dealt with by an RSPCA officer – hits television screens on Wednesday (September 12) as part of a new wildlife series.
Wednesday’s edition of ‘Saving Britain’s Wildlife’ – broadcast on Quest Red – tells the incredible story of the seal, who became badly trapped amid heavy rocks and boulders by a sea wall near the Port Talbot steelworks in November.
Remarkably, a three-tonne boulder was physically shifted out of the way to reach the seal as part of a complex multi-agency rescue. An engineer manoeuvred a modular-type specialist lifting gantry to secure safe access to the animal.
An RSPCA inspector at the time labelled the rescue the “most technical” he had ever been involved with.
Three RSPCA officers – inspector Nic de Celis, animal welfare officer Andrew Harris and animal collection officer Ellie West – helped bring the seal to safety. Associated British Ports, Sea-Lift Diving, British Divers’ Marine Life Rescue, RNLI and Neath Port Talbot Council were all involved in the rescue.
RSPCA Llys Nini branch kindly contributed funding towards the hire of the equipment which broke the boulders.
The seal was nicknamed Miracle by bystanders in Port Talbot, given the magnitude and scale of the rescue operation. She was later named Marina when transferred to the RSPCA’s West Hatch Wildlife Centre.
Marina, aka Miracle, was returned to the wild after spending six months in the care of the animal welfare charity. Programme-makers followed her progress at the centre prior to release – including a battle with gaining sufficient weight, lungworm, and an eye injury.
RSPCA ACO Ellie West returned the seal to the wild at Combe Martin on the North Devon coast in May, along with seven other seals rehabilitated by the RSPCA.
Britain’s public will now get the opportunity to re-live the seal’s amazing journey on Quest Red, with ACO West emphasising that the rescue is “testimony to the RSPCA’s tireless commitment to wild animals, and their welfare.”
She said: “It’s fantastic that Marina, aka Miracle, will have her amazing and unforgettable story told on ‘Saving Britain’s Wildlife’.
“I’d urge anyone interested in wildlife to tune into Quest Red at 8pm on Wednesday, and witness her remarkable rescue, which is truly testimony to the RSPCA’s tireless commitment to wild animals, and their welfare.
“Her rescue was exceptionally complex, and involved a huge amount of planning. Moving a three-tonne boulder presents numerous challenges, but we were able to work with partners to free this seal, before giving her the six months of rehabilitation she so urgently needed.
“It was a real battle to get Marina back to where she belonged. Lungworm, eye problems, and a long-standing battle to gain weight all stood in her way, but it truly was a memorable moment to finally be able to see her returned to the wild in Devon, half-a-year after her stunning rescue.”
Should you wish to help RSPCA Cymru complete rescues such as this, you can donate online. An urgent appeal has been launched by the RSPCA to help orphaned, injured and sick seals. The RSPCA is a charity and relies on public donations.