7 min read

Baby Seal With Net Stuck Around His Neck Gets Help From Rescuers

They had to rappel down a cliff one by one to save his life ❤

Two researchers were observing a group of seals on a beach when they spotted one lying away from the rest of the group with a piece of netting stuck around his neck. Even from afar, the women could tell that the net had caused a bad injury, and they determined that the seal likely wouldn’t survive without a little help. 

Knowing they wouldn’t be able to rescue the seal on their own, the two women — members of the Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust — contacted the British Divers Marine Life Rescue and the Cornish Seal Sanctuary, both of which sent people to help. It took a few hours to assemble the team and come up with a plan to help the seal — without spooking him or any of the other seals on the beach. 

seal rescue
Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust

“We had to approach very slowly and as quietly as possible so that none of the seals on the beach knew we were there until the last moment, otherwise they would startle and escape into the sea, including the victim,” Dan Jarvis, welfare development and field support officer at the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, told The Dodo. 

In order to approach the seal without him noticing, the team rappelled down a nearby cliff one by one. They then crept around the back of the cove, trying to remain unseen until the last possible second. 

Once they were finally in position, they ran as fast as they could toward the seal … 

seal rescue
Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust

… and were able to quickly restrain him. 

seal rescue
Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust

“He was very feisty when we caught him, so we used a towel over the head and around the jaw to stop him from biting, and also to cover his eyes to help calm him, so that we had full safe control of the animal while we cut the net away,” Jarvis said. 

seal rescue
Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust

After catching him, they realized that the poor struggling seal was very young, only around 9 months old. The netting was embedded deep in his neck, and if left alone, would have gotten deeper and more painful. Rescuers gently slipped a knife under the netting, cut it free, and then very carefully peeled it out of the seal’s neck. They gave the wound a quick cleaning, and ultimately decided not to take the seal to a rehabilitation facility, as the healing properties of the salt water would be enough to consistently clean and heal the wound. 

“The net had been pulled in tight across the back of the neck and had caused a fairly significant injury; this often happens as when the seal is hauling across a beach, the trailing part of the net will catch under the body and flippers and be pulled tight with every movement it makes,” Jarvis said. “Essentially it acts like a saw going back and forth and digging into its neck to cause the wound. The added weight and drag of the net when it is swimming would make it harder for it to hunt efficiently. There is also the small chance that it could get snagged on something underwater and drown.”

seal rescue
Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust

As soon as the netting was removed and the wound had been cleaned, the team let go of the seal ...

seal rescue
Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust

... who quickly scurried away. The actual rescue took only eight minutes, and changed the young seal’s life in a big way.

seal rescue
Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust

Weeks later, members of the Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust were back surveying the beach again when they spotted the very same seal, happily lounging on the beach. They could see that his wound was already much, much better. 

seal rescue
Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust

They contacted the rest of the team, eager to let them know that their rescue efforts had paid off, and the little seal they’d helped was now happily living his life, safe and sound.