Rescuer warns of ‘likely’ seal flu cases

A healthy seal pup found at Spurn Point
A healthy seal pup found at Spurn Point

The area coordinator for a marine animal rescue charity said preparations were taking place ahead of a ‘likely’ outbreak of seal flu in East Yorkshire.

Rocky Clarke, of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, is based at Walkington, but covers the whole of the East Riding, said he is gearing up for an outbreak because there have been a number of reported cases in Denmark recently.

“If it comes to Britain, we, on the east coast, will be the first to get it,” Rocky said.

The former police officer and other volunteers are now preparing protective masks, gloves and other instruments in anticipation of the possible outbreak along the east coast of Yorkshire.

“Seal flu might come over to us, with the Common Seals having their pups soon, it is very likely that we will get animals with Seal Flu.”

Rocky and British Divers Marine Rescue are the first point of contact for members of the public who come across sick, or injured seals.

The charity is utilised by the police in dealing with incidents involving large, marine animals, such as seals and even beached whales.

“We want to raise the profile of our organisation,” Rocky added.

Rocky is particularly keen to get the word out before common seals have their pups in October through to November, and also before Grey Seals have their babies in January and February.

A spokesperson for the charity added: “Seals regularly haul out on our coasts - it is part of their normal behaviour.

“Therefore, finding a seal on the beach does not mean there is necessarily a problem and they should not be chased back into the sea as this may stop them from doing what they need to do - rest. A healthy seal should be left well alone.

“Watch it from a distance and do not approach the animal.”