Stormy seas and freezing conditions continue to have a devastating impact on marine life, with further strandings and dead animals washed up on Northumberland beaches.
Earlier this month, the Gazette reported that the Beast from the East and Storm Emma had taken their toll on wildlife, with increased reports of stricken seals and dead porpoises, while the sandy stretch at Alnmouth was described as an ‘octopus apocalypse’.
But the prolonged period of cold weather is continuing to hit animals hard and the sight of exhausted creatures taking much-needed refuge on the county’s beaches has become more common.
Jane Hardy, a volunteer marine mammal medic for the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), has had a busy March and said that the situation is worse than normal.
So far this month, she has been called out to nearly 20 reports of stricken, injured or dead wildlife, including seals, porpoises and guillemots – compared to two in January and one in February.
Over the last three weeks, she has clocked up more than 250 miles, driving to incidents at Craster, Alnmouth, Togston, Warkworth, Low Hauxley and Newton Links.
Jane, from Alnwick, said: “Stormy seas and the cold weather are continuing to take their toll on juvenile seals and cetaceans along the Northumberland coastline.
“They are struggling – seals, starfish, octopuses, squid, lobsters and guillemots have all been casualties. Lots of things have washed up on the beach dead that we wouldn’t normally have. It’s been a real shame.”
Jane was speaking to the Gazette last Thursday, after releasing a seal at Alnmouth. The exhausted creature had been rescued from Warkworth the day before and was checked over and re-hydrated at Alnwick vets, Morris and Plumley.
Issuing advice to anyone who spots a seal on land, Jane said: “Keep a safe distance from resting seals so that they can recover without the stress of human and canine disturbance. If the seal appears sick or injured, or if there’s a stranded porpoise, whale or dolphin, call BDMLR on 01825 765546 or 07787 433412.”