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.