Saturday, 20 December 2008

Christmas pups

Christmas Card Competition Winner

We finally have a winner of our Christmas Card Competition! After recieving lots of wonderful entries we have picked the best. This has been an extremely hard decision but without further ado, the winner is.......(drum roll).................... Katie Mackay, 8years, from Miller academy Thurso, P4/5.
Katie will be out the Hospital soon to see the seals and maybe help us feed them.

here is Katies winning card

Thanks to all the children for the wonderful entries from all at the Highland Seal Hospital.

Jamie + Heather

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Roxy update -

Hi all

Just thought I would update everyone on Roxys progress.

Roxy has spent the last week on medication for infections, inflamation and pain. She had also been non responsive for any feeling in her rear flippers which as detailed below we are still hoping is a trapped nerve due to other functions that are normal. The feeling has not returned, with no gain on the left side with a minimal improvement on the right. The swelling in her back had subsided enough mid week that we could xray her and be confident we would get a better idea of what was going on. Roxy was sedated so we could get a clear look from several angles without stressing either her or the vet.

The prognosis is still not good but visually we can now see what is causing some of the swelling etc. Though unsure if this is the root cause of the nerve damage. The xrays showed she had 2 breaks in her right flipper, while both are in line they are bad breaks. one is on a digit and the other further up towards the body. The larger looks as though it is already starting to heal though is hard to pick up clearly. It may be that she has a bone infection either in the upper limb or running into the lower spine, thus causing the nerve damage. Her treatment will target this bone infection as without the use of her rear flippers the outcome is not good. Her recovery will be fairly long term and for quite a few weeks she will be in a pen swimming and kept quiet. Her feed will be monitored closely as usually we have a schedule that allows for the pups to be built up quickly, but for Roxy this will be continually adjusted to allow for her intentionally restrained excersise.

There are a couple of pics of the X Rays with the breaks circled.

Thanks again to both our consultant vet James Barnett and Bridgette from Thurso Vets for all the help over the last week or so with Roxys continually changing condition.


Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Miller Academy Talk 8th of December

We have organised a Christmas card competition with a local primary school and i went out to meet the pupils of P4 and P5 and give a talk to explain what we do at the hospital and tell them all about seals. I had a great time and the pupils asked lots of very interesting questions.Some of the pupils gave me their entries to the competition and more will follow next week.I have to say it will be a very difficult job to pick a winner as they are all very good.So watch this space as we will scan the winner and display it on our blog as well as the BDMLR website.
Thankyou to all the pupils and teachers of P4 and P5 for a great day.


Latest Arrival 8th of december

Medics Karen and Karina responded to a call regarding a pup on Dunnet beach.He was whisked into the hospital as it was very clear this pup needed our help.

He was 19.5kg but had lost a lot of weight he should have been nearer 30kg as you can see from his photo he is extremely wrinkly with a large muzzle and flippers.He has an infection in his umbilicus,and an eye infection both are being treated with antibiotics.It was decided that he would be called Abe after the character Abe (Grandpa) in the Simpsons as he was so wrinkly.Abe is a weaned pup with tiny patches of white coat on his flippers.Abe has a calm demeanor and is so easy to treat ,he has recieved fluid therapy and will be fed fish soon.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

New arrival on 28th November


Local medics Tracey and Richard responded to a call,and our latest grey seal arrived at the hospital.She was a weaned female pup weighing in at 20kg, approx 3 weeks old she had several infected puncture wounds covering her body.Her front left flipper was badly bitten, but what concerned us more was the lack of movement in both her rear flippers.She had sustained a blow to the spine as there is lots of tissue/muscle swelling on her left side of the lower spine.She has movement in her tail and bladder and bowel function are intact so we are hopeful that if the swelling in the effected tissue/muscle is controlled she should regain the movement of her rear flippers. She has been called Roxy and is the most aggressive seal we have encountered in years.She is receiving treatment by injection in the evening and her flippers checked daily for improvement.She is in a flooded pen during the day as she can eat for herself very well.As discussed with James Barnett and our local vets Roxy will receive treatment for 7-10 days then she will be reassessed,further treatment will be based on response to her current treatment plan.Roxy may be grumpy but she is incredibly beautiful as you can see from the photos.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

New arrival 19th of november

We are having a particularly bad spell of weather and with that comes pups in difficulty. A white coat was brought to the hospital last night.A male around 10-14 days old underweight but luckily only minor injuries; a grazed rear flipper,eye infection and nasty bad breath.He is called Breeze, a fiesty little man who is settling in well. Breeze was given lectade for the first 24 hours along with vitamins and a course of antibiotics.Hopefully Breeze will live up to his name and be back out in the wild soon.

We are all hoping the weather will calm down but i think it's wishful thinking.Thanks again to all the medics who attended the rescue as it was a truly stinking night.

update 10th of november

Sorry to report sad news but it is an unfortunate fact of life.We had a difficult week with 2 grey seal pups being brought into the nursery days apart. The first pup a white coat female was picked up on 30Th of October on Dunnet beach,she was called Casper. Casper had sustained multiple injuries, her jaw was extremely swollen and damaged.A large wound on her abdomen and puncture wounds covering her entire body.She could not be tubed as she was so swollen and stressed.We consulted with James Barnett our specialist vet and the difficult decision to euthanase her was made.

The next pup to arrive at the hospital was Kai. He was picked up at Broch on the 2nd of November. Kai was a very soft natured pup with a birth defect. His right nostril appeared to be missing, on assessment Kai was found to have a cleft palate,his teeth were misaligned he was suffering from a very nasty infection of the mouth and sinus tract.His missing nostril was in his mouth above what should have been his gum line.Again we consulted James and the difficult decision to euthanase was made.

In the 8 years that Jamie has worked with seals Casper and Kai were only the 3rd and 4Th seals he had to euthanase.It is never an easy decision to make but you have to put the pups welfare first both physically and mentally.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Pup up-date 20th of october

Moss is the first grey seal of the season. He was found lying on a patch of moss high up on a rocky shoreline. He was monitored for 4 days before he was brought into the nursery as he was in good body condition and we had to make sure his mother had abandoned him.
Moss is a lovely pup, initially nervous but is settling into the nursery well. As you can see from his photo he is moulting. When he was admitted he was sporting a pair of large fluffy eyebrows these have disappeared now as his moulting progresses.
On assessment Moss had various abrasions and eye infection and an old scar on his shoulder, he is being treated for these minor injuries with some antibiotics. He is a big boy weighting in at 22.7kg so he being fed on fish and is feeding very well, he ate 2 fish in the water while enjoying his first swim to-day.

From the beginning Arnie was the star of the nursery, progressing through the system very easily. He is a very calm amiable pup who fed for himself at a very early stage. Arnie has leap frogged the others in the nursery and is now the heaviest common.

Kessock or Kess as she is affectionately known is feeding for herself in the water and gaining weight well. Initially she dropped weight while learning to eat fish in the water. Kess has earned herself the nickname of the phantom flatulator, as she waits for you to clean the pen then creeps up beside you then lets rip noisily.

Bella is in the large end pen with Kess and is eating fish for herself. She is still a quiet gentle girl with a stubborn streak, and has taken a while to learn to eat for herself. Being in a pen with Kess Bella realised you have to be quick or Kess will eat all the fish.

Arnie and Pickle
Pickle is a small pup with a huge personality. He has been the difficult pup of the season. Feeding is problematic, he won’t eat for himself yet and is back to being hand fed. Fortunately his blood tests have come back ok. So it’s just a matter of feeding him up gradually getting the weight back on him and fingers crossed he’ll come good with time.

This season of common seals has been unusual pups have been born later than expected and there are fewer born this year. There are many different theories as to why this but no hard evidence yet.

Hospital has lots of visitors in september/october


Stacey and Angie are both medics from the Buchan area who came up for a week. Angie has helped out on many occasions before and this was Stacey’s first visit to the hospital. They were a great help and will always be welcome at the hospital. Thank you both very much for all your help it was much appreciated. A special thank you from the pups to Auntie Angie cheers for the care package the toys were cool.


Andy co-ordinator for Buchan area and his girlfriend Alison a vet student and medic also popped up for a few days. Andy has been involved in the hospital from the beginning so it’s always great to them both.


Jenny and Paul are old friends of the nursery; they have helped us out lots both personally and professionally. Thankfully the weather was very kind to us and we did have some nice days. Paul is our I.T. wiz and managed to repair our ailing computer. He also donated a laptop to the nursery, which is extremely welcome and most generous. Jenny has been working on adoption scheme with myself and has proven invaluable as she is capable of wearing many different hats at once (editor, proof reader, comic, the list is endless). The week flew by and we were all sad to see them make the long journey home, we can only hope some one invents a teleporting machine soon!


Elizabeth is an artist who asked to come up and draw the seals. She has very generously agreed to donate a piece of her work from her sessions in the nursery to help raise funds.
Elizabeth’s work is fantastic and even from her sketching you could clearly identify each pup’s individual characteristics. We hope to see more of her at the nursery and as soon as her web site is operational we will add a link to the blog. So thank you very much Elizabeth it was a great insight to see an artist at work.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

8th September update: IFAW and Alan Knight visit BDMLR HSH


Alan Knight Director of BDMLR came to visit the hospital with Ian Robinson and Claire from International Fund For Animal Welfare to talk about the possibilities of helping with funding for the hospital. Ian is a vet who has a vast knowledge of seals as he previously ran East Winch for many years. Ian is now based in Boston USA for IFAW and deals with many different projects on a global scale. Claire is the press officer for IFAW’s London headquarters so enjoyed getting up close and personal with our pups in the nursery. They are both extremely busy people so we really appreciate them taking time out of their hectic schedules to visit the hospital.
It was great to chat to someone who understands the process of seal rehabilitation so well and has such a wealth of knowledge. Both Ian and Claire got a little hands on work with the pups, Claire hand fed one of the pups from outside the pen and Ian hopped in with the 2 smaller pups who were still being force fed. I think they both enjoyed the experience from the big smiles. It wasn’t all work as we did manage a trip on the North Coast Explorer, which was amazing. We saw lots of wonderful wildlife, around 50 harbour porpoise in Gill’s bay, a great variety of seabirds and hundreds of grey seals as we toured round the island of Stroma. It was such a pleasure seeing so many seals in their natural habitat. Thank you Alan for making my first trip on a powerboat such a memorable one I didn’t realise you could do hand brake turns on the water!
The entire visit was a great success, we all had fun and IFAW agreed to give us some funding. From all at BDMLR Highland Seal Hospital thank you Ian and Claire. Thank you Alan for your continued hard work and support of the hospital.
So from all the pups and humans at the BDMLR Highland Seal Hospital THANK YOU IFAW very much for all your help and continued support.

Take care Heather

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Thursday Sept ember the 8th ( backdated catchup)

Hospital Update: 8Th September

Apologies first for the long break between updates. This was due to a very busy month both in the hospital and personally. Another factor was IT problems between laptop and uploads but with a new laptop on the way this should finally be sorted.
On the personal front I had to be away from the hospital for several days at a time due to my partner, Heather, both in the hospital and in the rest of life, finally getting a kidney transplant. This was performed in Glasgow and the month or so of recovery also in Glasgow. All went very well and Heather is doing extremely well and is now at home. Due to anti rejection drugs and risk of infection it will be at least another five months before Heather came come back to working in the hospital. No dialysis four times a day anymore so it has already made a huge improvement to Heathers, and mine, quality of life.
A very big thank you must also go to our number one volunteer Richard Bradley, or poo monkey as he refers to himself. He made a huge effort during this time from coming in for every feed days before I had to go away, to learn force feeding fish and the different traits of each pup with it. Then he spent several periods where I would be away for four or so days at a time, returning to find Richard tired, but he had kept the hospital in fine form, following the routine and dealing with Pickle who decided to start being difficult with feeding. So thank you for all your work Richard, it was a crash course for feeding before hand, but you did a great job and it made my time away less stressful as I didn’t have to worry about the pups.


Well we had a new arrival on the 10th August from Dunnet beach.
A common seal male weighing in at 8.5 kilo. He has been named Arnie by the local medics He was dehydrated and malnourished and around a week old. He has followed the routine of being rehydrated before starting on his milk. He has been through the fish stages and is now hand feeding from outside the pen. He is a very laid back pup and spends his day playing, either with Pickle or with the various things put into the pen for enrichment. He feeds his fish extremely well and rips the fish apart in the water, filleting them with his nails and then swallows everything down. There is no waste with Arnie.

Weight on all pups has been progressing well with current weights as of 8/9/08:
Kessock: 14.7 kg
Bella: 16 kg
Pickle: 12.5 kg
Arnie:13.7 kg

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Bella and Kessock playing in pen

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Bella and Kessock Kessock

Bella Kessock Kessock + Bella

UPDATE: 21/7/08

All pups doing well and settling into the routine.
Hopefully along with this update there will be a picture update in the form of a slideshow, I say hopefully as my forte is seal rehab not IT. Also up should be a copy of our weight chart showing the pups progression through the weeks and I will highlight the changes in feed from milk through weaning and onto feeding for themselves.
We had an article about the hospital in Saturdays Daily Telegraph, it was a good piece and we are grateful for the publicity, though it was not as detailed as we had hoped, but good non the less. And Kessock had a colour picture of her to go with the story.
I must say a huge thanks to Richard who has been coming out during the week for the morning feed and clean. He helps with everything around the place and makes my life a lot easier, so Rich, thanks again.
Friday was weigh day and all pups had gained, even little pickle who had only been in a few days.

Friday: 18/7
Kessock: 9.7kg
Bella : 10.5kg
Pickle: 7.9kg a good gain after 2 days considering it had rehydration fluid for the first 24 hours before starting on milk.

Monday: 21/7
Kessock: 10.8 kg
Bella: 11.5 kg
Pickle 8.6 kg
A really good weekend with all pups gaining good weight, and looking very healthy with it.


Kes is doing well and is quite well behaved, she does have the habit of putting her jaw around my leg and squeezing whenever I am cleaning or in the pen. This was fine when she was tiny and her teeth were yet to come and couldn’t reach above my wellies. Now she is bigger I can really feel her teeth pushing through the wellies and it’s a bit of a worry when I feel her at my knees. Have to keep an eye on her at all times. She is very playful and when she hears us open up in the morning she makes it known to all she wants her food. She was certainly well behaved for the photographer from the paper.


Bella is settling in and while still a bit nervous she knows the routine, it is only if you are doing something she is not used to that she gets jumpy. Bella and Kessock are now buddied up in the same pen. At first Kessock just wanted to play but Bella being nervous as she is, just spent the afternoon at the back of the pen with one eye on Kes. She never seemed afraid or aggressive, which can and does happen, but rather just kept her distance. This buddying up is very important for their development and stops them attaching to us, be it through necessary interaction or visual stimulation.


Pickle is progressing well, and again seems to be settling into his routine with his weight picking up at a good rate. Due to his severe malnourishment we have to be careful in the early stages with his intake and basically ease him into it. With his relatively short time at the unit his weight gain is very pleasing. He is a bit like Bella in that he is still nervous, though he is lightning fast, so we have to keep an eye on him when in the pen and also count our fingers once out J

That’s it for today, a big one I know, remember drop us an email at the address opposite and say hi.
All the best

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Update: 16th July

Well the season is now well and truly underway, yesterday afternoon between feeds, Richard bradley being the coordinator for Caithness, had a call out for a pup at Strathy, about 20 miles west of Thurso. Local medic Callum Stronach joined us on the drive to check on the pup.
We arrived to find a very malnourished pup up at the high tide line. He was covered in sand and so after a quick eye wash he was carried the mile or so back up to the road to Richards Landrover and transported to the seal hospital.
Once at the hospital the standard assessment showed us we had a male harbour seal pup weighing in at 7.5kg and around 5 or so days old. He is/was in a very very poor body condition. We have started his rehydration and later today he will be started on the milk formula, this combined with his medication should start making him feel better. He is looking better this morning after a night under the heat lamp. His blood sample should give us a better idea of what’s going on in his system.
He is alert and relatively active which is a good sign, especially considering his condition. As usual we will monitor and treat accordingly.
He has been called Pickle and as usual we will let you know how he gets on.

As for Kessock and Bella, both are doing well and have settled in nicely. Once Bella finishes her course of antibiotics they will be buddied up in the same pen. Kessock is herself such a well settled pup and if not sleeping is playing around the pen with anything she can get hold of. Bella has settled and come into her own, she is a bit more relaxed with her surroundings and not as nervous, we just take it slow and deliberate around her.

Well thats it for today, so far J as at the time of writing its only 11am and after not getting home till after 1am last night, we need to wait to see what the rest of the day brings.
Remember to go and look at BDMLR’s web site and if you can donate in anyway then please do so. With so many pups coming in at such a young age we are rapidly going through the Multi Milk formula, and what with it costing £100 a bucket, and with three pups now meaning it wont last too many days, any help at all is gratefully accepted. If you can help then please do.

Thanks again

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Picture blog 15th July 2008




Update 14th July


Friday night (11th) at 10.30pm our second pup arrived.
A week old common/harbour seal female. She was picked up off of Thurso beach after being reported to the local police earlier in the day. Local BDMLR medics Richard Bradley and Karen Munro arrived to discover a small thin looking pup that clearly hadn’t eaten for a while. Richard and Karen then transported the pup out to the hospital where Heather and I were waiting.
We all agreed to give her the name Bella, she weighed in at 9.4kg, was around a week old and besides being a bit malnourished she had no physical injuries.
Balla has started her rehydration routine and everything seems well this morning. She will be started on her milk formula this afternoon and we expect her to progress well.
Like Kessock she will be given the usual supplements, a course of antibiotics and we will blood sample her on Monday.
She is quite nervous, which really is to be expected. One minute your on the beach and the next you have people around annoying you by touching, and proding.
She will we assume calm down over the next day or so once she realises we are helping her and she has a routine.
KESSOCK is her usual laidback self , constantly wanting to suckle on my wellies and waterproofs.
Once these pups are cleared for anything major, mainly parasite and blood testing they will be buddied up together. This will help them develop immensely and is a natural stimulation.

Monday = Weigh day. Kessock 8.7kg
Bella 9.7 kg
More later

Friday, 11 July 2008


Well, compared to last year it’s a very slow start to the common season, just as well as its allowed us to get fully operational once again. We have situated the hospital building, completed the cladding, drainage, painting and the plumbing and electric. We did have a short lived happiness when we first turned on the water from the main. It was the last major piece of the puzzle, unfortunately once the pressure built after a few moments we then realised the internal fittings couldn’t cope with the new pressure, as water was cascading across the floor and a fountain was trying hard to burst upwards through the ceiling. A minor hiccup, but a wet hiccup. We also had to restock more than we would have wished as we had quiet a lot of things go missing between shutting the hospital at its previous place and reopening in the new. These things happen but with the unbudgeted costs of moving these have really hurt our finances. Many people ask me why we moved as we had a very successful season last year. The decision to move was based not on our rehab work or practices, more we were in an environment that we couldn’t plan for the future with any certainty. Agreements would be changed regularly without consultation, and we soon realised it was not a stable environment to build our future, so the decision was taken to finish the season and relocate. Security was a issue as well.

NEW ARRIVAL! 4th July - Kessock

Well, that is the past and a short but successful past it has been, and now here we are with our first pup of the season, she is also the first pup in the new location. So a very special girl.
14th July - Kessock – a common seal female weighing 7kgs and approximately 4 days old on arrival.
Kessock had been observed for a few days by BDMLR medic Kirsty Sharrat and Charlie Philips, both also of WDCS. As her name hints at she was found at North Kessock, just across the bridge from Inverness. She arrived with us around 10pm and was assessed and then started on hydration fluid for the first 24hours.
Kessock was underweight and we surmise, from the amount of time she was observed and the weight loss that she had spent only around 24 hours, if that with her mum. She had no injuries, so once off the hydration fluid she started her routine of four hourly milk feeds for five then four times a day. The amount changes with her body weight.
Mondays weight = 7.3 kg - progressing well
Fridays weight = 8.4 – excellent! She is really coming on, well behaved as well. (It helps)
She is starting to teeth and has taken to biting wellies and squeezing them in her mouth, so time to watch the fingers.

More as it happens

I must also take this time to thank all those that have helped with the move to our new home. If I have left anyone out then don’t worry I will remember at some time, as at the moment my mind is filled with too much information (most of it useless).
To all the family at BDMLR, at head office and around the country, THANK YOU! Not only have you all been supporters of the hospital and our work, but you have given me the opportunity to do what I love doing with an organisation that truly cares. You pretty much know who you are and your not just friends to Heather and I but truly family. The two people who should be mentioned are James Barnett and Alan Knight. Alan for sharing the vision and what we would like to aim for, but more importantly, like most of his ideas, for making it happen. I know it was a leap of faith and a long time planning. And also for doing it on a handshake as mates with neither of us needing something written at the early meetings, that means a lot. For James for the encouragement and help in making it happen. I often wonder where we would be if you hadn’t phoned that evening and mentioned the unit. It only took me three minutes I think, to say yes “I’m in”.
I would be mentioning hundreds if I did it individually.
A very big thank you to Richard Bradley, Jim and all those from the Caithness team who helped get the unit cladded, painted and generally sorted once it arrived. It would have taken a lot longer without your help.
To Richard and Trish for helping so very much with the move of home for Heather, myself and the dogs. For the many nights letting me sleep on the sofa whilst I was inbetween two places, for the endless coffee and food and most of all for your friendship.
And to anyone reading this thank you for having a look and being interested. Check back regularly for updates on whats happening and any new arrivals. If you’ve arrived here without coming through the BDMLR site, then go have a look, I’m sure you will find lots of information, news and the forum is always busy.

All the best

The Highland Seal Hospital was originally funded by IFAW and is overseen/managed by the UK charity British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR). BDMLR is a charity dedicated to the rescue and triage of all marine mammals, and the training of medics to deal with assessing and saving those stranded or in trouble not just in the UK, but internationally.
The Highland Seal Hospital is located about seven miles from John O’Groats on the far northern coast of Scotland.
The main purpose of the hospital is to rehabilitate stranded seals and deal with injured, or debilitated seals found ashore throughout Scotland.
The hospital was originally set up in Skarsferry many years ago as a holding facility, before animals could be taken to a dedicated rehab facility. This changed dramatically in 2007 when the hospital was moved further down the west coast of Scotland to be opened with additional facilities as a dedicated rehab centre. Twelve months later this changed once again when circumstances meant a move back to Skarsferry on the north coast and thankfully a more stable, longterm future.
From the 1st June 2008 we have been officially open at our new home.
The Hospital is managed and manned by myself Jamie Dyer and my partner Heather Greig. We both have many years experience rehabbing seals at a large rehab centre on the west coast of Scotland. Myself running the animal side of the centre as well as many years rehabbing wildlife back home in Australia. Heather having many years experience as a vet nurse in Glasgow before joining the team at the rehab centre.
We both bring our experience and high standards of care to this always exciting new set up of the Hospital.
We are overseen by specialist vets, as well as the local veterinary surgery, all of who have a vast experience with marine mammals.