Supporting British Divers Marine Life Rescue
We're very passionate about spending time on the beaches, along the coasts, and in the sea around Cornwall. It's very important to us that these amazing environments are looked after for the creatures that live there, and for future generations.
This is why 10% of all profits from Perrans Above to Marine Conservation.
We donate to a charity which is a little known hero of Marine Conservation in Britain: BDMLR (British Divers Marine Life Rescue).
In 2019 BDMLR attended 1,788 call outs, helping to rescue: 1,658 seals, 95 dolphins, and 36 whales!
In order to find out more about the amazing work done by BDMLR, we asked our local BDMLR medic, Lizzi Larbalestier, as few questions.
BDMLR are a national charity, so why is it important to support them in Cornwall?
"Cornwall has one for the highest callout areas in the UK due to the large population of Cornish grey seals. Annually our volunteer medics receive over 500 callouts to seal pups and cetaceans in trouble.
We lack sufficient seal rehabilitation space in Cornwall so often pups are within our care whilst waiting to move to the Seal Sanctuary space or the RSPCA wildlife centre.
BDMLR lack direct financing, as we do not run public facing visitor centres, so unless we meet supportive members of the public during rescues, oftentimes people do not even know this charity exists".
What are your aims for BDMLR fundraising in Cornwall, and what does the money allow you to do?
"We're aiming to provide rescue equipment for our medics and vital medication for sick and injured seal pups. We aim to significantly upgrade and enhance our seal pup short-term holding facilities to enable our medics to provide the highest level of animal care".
Please can you share a rescue story with us?
"In August 2018 I and other medics responded to a BDMLR call at Trevellas Porth, where we found a pup of about 8 months old looking pretty poorly. We were told that a member of the public had been stroking her (never a good sign since an even partially healthy seal would and should have bitten them).
On assessment she had signs of a number of illnesses (including pneumonia) and we decided to take her in to rehabilitation. A few months later plump and healthy Banana’s release day came! Complete with her tag 'Red 300' she clambered onto the beach and then… stopped! She simply decided not to go and instead sat on Porthtowan beach for an hour. Concerned about some potential underlying health issue the sanctuary decided to open up the trailer to take her back. She could not get back on that trailer quick enough - keen to 'get home'!
A couple of months and a storm passed by with more health tests showing nothing significant. A second attempt was made to release her. Once again she refused to leave with the other pups, and so the animal care team chased her into the water in an attempt to be cruel to be kind. With mixed emotions, we watched her swim off reluctantly...
A few hours later in the early evening more BDMLR medics responded to a report of 'a seal with children sitting on it taking selfies'… she had returned to Porthtowan! The BDMLR medics moved her to the much quieter Chapel Porth, in the hope that she would work out for herself that she was now back in the wild.
Less than 48 hours later and I received a call 'we think your friend is back… at Penhale this time'… Banana had returned! We guarded her for several hours, having drawn a large circle in the sand to act as a line not to cross. Hoping she would swim away again… The tide went out, and Banana simply laid there like a huge blimp!
Following a lot of debate the decision was made to take her back to Gweek. It was unclear whether she had fed and her response to people was not normal for a seal. Luckily we borrowed a 4x4 since now she was 45kg, and with a 15kg cage the Perran Sands zigzag walkway might have been the end of all of us!
An ethical review followed and a permanent place at the seal sanctuary was offered. Whilst it is unclear what exactly isn’t right with her, she certainly has a few quirks that suggested she may not survive out in the wild.
Banana is an absolutely stunning seal who I personally have a strong bond with, having rescued her more than once. It is a joy to see her settled and happy but… whilst her story is exceptional… she is NOT a success story… Our aim is that ALL pups we can save get returned to the wild".
What difference do BDMLR medics make to local wildlife, such as to a seal pup washed up on the beach?
"In addition to seal pup monitoring, relocating, and rescuing we respond to cetaceans that live strand. Examples include transporting dolphins in the back of vehicles or boats from estuary mud zones to locations where they can be refloated. On occasions some animals sadly cannot be saved and our actions ensure their suffering is minimised.
We respond to seabirds in trouble too and we are on call 24/7.
White coat seal pups are a good example of where we can make a huge difference. Monitoring these for two tide cycles, and keeping people away, can make the difference between a mum returning to wean a pup - as opposed to being spooked, and the pup becoming separated from its mum; and having to endure months of rehab. A white coat pup is reliant on its mum and we only take these in for rehab as a last resort".
Why is it so important that people support BDMLR?
"Other than on rescues or marine conservation days BDMLR are not a public facing charity. Many people do not realise that we are a separate charity to the rehabilitation centres and do not have access to their funds. We are the first emergency service for marine life in trouble. Many of the reasons marine mammals find themselves in trouble is a direct result of human actions… we are here to redress the balance".
If you'd like to make a donation to BDMLR, then you can do so here.