Cornish seal swims free after rescue from life-threatening frisbee entanglement

The female adult seal was spotted in St Ives harbour on July 2, prompting members of the public to report her condition to local animal charities.

Rod Minchin
Wednesday 05 July 2023 12:48 BST
Animal experts had to temporarily trap the seal in St Ives harbour to remove the plastic frisbee (Cornish Seal Sanctuary/PA)
Animal experts had to temporarily trap the seal in St Ives harbour to remove the plastic frisbee (Cornish Seal Sanctuary/PA)

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

Rescuers have saved the life of a grey seal on the Cornish coastline after it was found with a ring-style frisbee stuck around its neck.

The female adult seal was spotted in St Ives harbour on July 2, prompting members of the public to report her condition to Cornwall’s seal rescue network, British Divers Marine Life Rescue and the Cornish Seal Sanctuary.

It was thought the ring was very tight and could cut into her neck which could have proven fatal due to infection.

After one failed rescue attempt, the experts used a seal cage to temporarily trap the animal in the harbour and cut off the frisbee.

Dan Jarvis, from British Divers Marine Life Rescue, said: “We were all on tenterhooks waiting for the right moment, as it was critical that we didn’t spook her by charging in too soon as if we lost her back into the harbour then we might not get another chance to try this.

“Luckily, she relaxed and gave us the time we needed to rush in and block off the entrance, which was very difficult to maintain given the strong current washing in and out of the tunnel despite being just under waist depth, and we needed quite a few of us to brace against the boards to maintain the blockade.

“Obviously she was stressed and looking for a way out, testing the boards for a way under, around or through it, but she did soon notice at the back of the tunnel blocked off on the seaward side by heavy wooden beams – which has a small gap in it – and attempted an escape through that instead.

“With some quick thinking, we managed to run in and distract her so that she slipped back into the tunnel again, which was a pretty hair-raising moment.”

Upon capture, the ring was quickly cut off the seal’s neck, and she was promptly returned to the sea to the cheers of watching passers-by.

Tamara Cooper, from the Cornish Seal Sanctuary, added: “Saving this seal was a real team effort.

“We all know how dangerous plastic waste can be for our marine wildlife, but this is just one example of how our local seals can face life or death situations from something as simple as losing a frisbee in the sea.”

The seal, which is known locally as Wings, is a regular summer visitor to the harbour and is often fed from boats – meaning she was more acclimatised to humans.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in