Westport Vet nurse involved in seal pup rescue in South Queensferry

A Westport Veterinary Clinic vet was recently involved in the rescue of a baby seal that had washed up on South Queensferry Beach.

By Kevin Quinn
Friday, 14th January 2022, 6:00 am
Westport Vets nurse Nicola McPhee and the seal pup she helped rescue at South Queensferry Beach.
Westport Vets nurse Nicola McPhee and the seal pup she helped rescue at South Queensferry Beach.

Nicola McPhee is signed up to Marine Mammal Medics training, with the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), so was ready when the call came in about the stranded pup at the end of last year.

Recalling the incident, she said: "A member of the public had noticed the seal pup on the beach on its own and distressed. They called the SSPCA, who then called the BDMLR to ask for the seal pup to be checked.

"There were phone calls back and forth to the head office when making decisions on whether the pup needed rescued or not.

"The area co-ordinator organised for a more experienced medic to attend with me, as well as dropping off a suitable cage for us to transport the seal pup.

"The pup was checked for age, general condition and injuries carefully on the beach, before being 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."

Could the situation have been prevented? Nicola said: "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 abandoning him. Unfortunately the pup needs the mother for food so would have starved without being reported by the member of public and been rescued.

"Keeping your distance from all marine mammals is the best thing people can do, to prevent causing them stress. Seal pups often look abandoned but their mothers are in the water getting food and watching from a distance. Additionally, they carry diseases that can be passed to humans and dogs."

Nicola revealed her drive to be involved in marine rescue: "I saw a beached whale near my home. The BDMLR were attending and I felt this was something I would love to be involved in. 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."