It was a sunny October Sunday at Oxwich Bay and we had just surfaced from a brilliant dive on the Solor, a Norwegian ship sunk in the Second World War. After conducting a short rescue exercise at the surface, we decided to bring our boat JAFFA into shore for some chips before departing for our next dive.
We hopped off the boat to guide her onto the beach when a little grey head popped up at the stern. Expecting the seal to have a quick look at us and swim off again, we all had a little glance and continued about our business – but the seal had other ideas! Our visitor came up and nuzzled the legs of one of our divers, so naturally, we all got in the water to have a better look. Turns out the seal decided to stick around for a little play!
After half an hour of seal-selfies with Simon the Seal (who actually turned out to be a Simone the Seal) we walked the boat into shore and to our surprise, our new friend followed us! We were just chatting to some families who had gathered to watch, explaining our confusion at this peculiar circumstance when an RSPCA officer approached us, revealing that she’d been trying to catch the seal all day but she’d so far evaded her best efforts.
It turns out Simone the Seal was so friendly because she’d been rescued and reared previously and so saw us humans as an easy food opportunity! Early Autumn is the time of year that some young grey seals can begin to struggle to find food, especially after large storms have passed through. Since Simone was on the skinny side, the RSPCA had decided it would be best to bring her back in to feed her up before winter comes around.
With the use of a few towel-barriers and the promise of a fish dinner, we helped the RSPCA Officer coax Simone into her transport kennel, making her comfy and ready for her holiday at the seal sanctuary. A very happy end to an amazing day!
In a statement from the RSPCA, they highlight that although some encounters like ours can be friendly, it’s important to remember that at the end of the day, seals are wild animals and should be treated with caution:
“This unwell and underweight seal clearly needed our help – but we would urge people to stay away from seals as they have a nasty bite.”
“Should somebody find a seal pup abandoned that looks fit and healthy and shows no signs of distress, they should monitor it first from a safe distance for 24 hours and contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 if the mother does not return in that time.”
“This seal has now been transferred to specialist wildlife facilities. Rescuing wildlife like this injured seal is a huge part of the RSPCA’s work in Wales, and we’re just pleased to have been able to help this distressed animal. We’d like to thank everyone at the beach who assisted with this rescue.”
In return, we would like to thank the RSPCA for their professionalism, friendliness, and dedication to this amazing animal and wish our new friend all the best in her future.
by Toby Humby