Description

Response to reports of stranded or dead seals

Key locations

Throughout the Berwickshire and Northumberland Coast

Frequency

Throughout the year but more common after pupping season over the winter months

Potential issues

  • Seal disturbance
  • Missed opportunities to gather data on seal populations and causes of death if stranding go unreported
  • Possible harm to seal pubs if normal hauling-out behaviour is mistaken for strandings and members of the public attempt their own recuse

Features of Marine Protected Areas which might be affected

  • Grey seal

Legal Responsibilities or Duties (England)

Seal stranding procedures are not regulated by any law in England.

Details of Current Management (England)

Stranding procedures are not regulated by law in England however well established protocols are in place about how to report strandings.

Mothers regularly leave their pups alone on the shore while they rest, play and forage for food nearby. Lone pups are a common sight and are quite safe. Live  seals found on the shore are more than likely just resting and should only be observe from a distance, particularly if it is a young pup as scaring it may cause it to move, making it difficult for its mother to find again.

If the animal looks sick (coughing, sneezing, short of breath) or injured, they should be reported to the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) who are trained marine mammal medics.

The British Divers Marine Life Rescue can be contacted on :

Office Hours:01825 765546

Out of Hours: 07787 433412

Dead seals must be reported to the local council (on 0345 600 6400), regardless of where they are found. The council will then contact the landowner to remove it, or make efforts to remove it themselves (for costs).

The Information will ask for is:

  • name of beach or shore
  • location on the shore
  • any signs of injury or cause of death
  • state of decomposition
  • photographs if available

The council will report the incident to the relevant bodies and will liaise with them to agree the removal of the carcass wherever practicable although this may not be possible due to certain legalities, land ownership and access.

More information on what to do if you find a stranded animal can be found in our help guide: Reporting Dead or Stranded Marine Mammals

Gaps in Management (England)

More work is needed to make the public aware of hauling out behaviour of pups to ensure that pups are left alone and not treated as stranded

Legal Responsibilities or Duties (Scotland)

Legal Power or Duty Relevant Legislation Responsible Organisations
Offence of  intentionally or recklessly killing, injuring or taking a seal at any time of year, except under licence or for welfare reasons Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 (Section 107) Marine Scotland
Designation of protected seal haul out areas Protection of Seals (Designation of Haul-out Sites) (Scotland) Order 2014 Marine Scotland

Details of Current Management (Scotland)

Stranding procedures are not regulated by law in Scotland legal however well established stranding protocols are in place.   The Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme is in place and monitors strandings of seals, cetaceans, basking sharks and turtles in Scottish waters. It is run by the Scottish Rural College (SRUC) in Inverness.

Although seal strandings themselves are not covered by legislation, under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly kill, injure or take a seal at any time of year, except under licence or for welfare reasons.  It is also an offence to intentionally or recklessly harass seals at significant haul-out sites under the Protection of Seals (Designation of Haul-out Sites) (Scotland) Order 2014. One of the designated seal haul-out sites is located between Dunbar and Eyemouth. A map of this area can be found at http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0045/00454620.pdf

Finding a seal on a beach does not necessarily indicate a problem. It is part of the normal behaviour of seals to haul out on to the coast where they regularly spend time resting or digesting their food. Mothers regularly leave their pups alone on the shore while they rest, play and forage for food nearby. Lone pups are a common sight and are quite safe. A  live seal on the shore is more than likely just resting. Observe from a distance, particularly if it is a young pup. Scaring it may cause it to move, making it difficult for its mother to find again.

If the animal looks sick (coughing, sneezing, short of breath) or injured, they should be reported to the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) who are trained marine mammal medics.

The British Divers Marine Life Rescue can be contacted on :

Office Hours:01825 765546

Out of Hours: 07787 433412

If the seal is dead then it can be reported to the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) on 0800 652 0333

More information on what to do if you find a stranded animal can be found in our help guide: Reporting Dead or Stranded Marine Mammals

Gaps in Management (Scotland)

More work is needed to make the public aware of hauling out behaviour of pups to ensure that pups are left alone and not treated as stranded