Seal pup rescued after getting entangled in fishing hooks and lines in Cornwall

Entanglement of seals in long lines of hooks is a relatively new phenomena in the area, having only started being recorded in the last few years. Credit: British Divers Marine Life Rescue

A young grey seal has been rescued after it became entangled in more than a dozen fishing hooks off the coast of Cornwall.

Half of the hooks were embedded in the seal’s body. One had even pierced through its mouth, pulling a line tight around its neck, while another hook was found stuck in the pup's back.

Kelp stems had also got stuck in the trailing hooks, meaning the pup was having to drag large amounts of seaweed around as it swam.

Two medics from British Divers Marine Life Rescue went to Porthgwarra Beach in Penzance on 25 October after staff at Porthqwarra Cove Cafe spotted the distressed seal.

The rescuers arrived just as the tide was going out and could only watch as the seal was washed back out to sea. 

But they returned the following morning and located the animal before using wire cutters to clip the hooks and extract the barbed ends through its skin.

Climate change may be at fault for increased seal rescues as the peak seasons for grey seal pupping are arriving much earlier. Credit: British Divers Marine Life Rescue

They said the seal was left with mostly small clean wounds, but its lip was torn slightly when the hook was removed from its mouth.

A spokesperson for British Drivers and Marine Life Rescue said: “Despite the experience, the pup was otherwise in a relatively good condition if somewhat exhausted by it all. 

“After being given some rehydration fluids it was marked and released back on the beach, eventually swimming off when it was ready.”