Seal has plastic ring removed from its neck after six years of tracking
The male grey seal, named Commuter, was spotted off the north coast of Cornwall by wildlife experts.
Conservationists have successfully removed a plastic ring from the neck of a seal which they had been tracking for more than six years.
The adult, male grey seal, named Commuter, was spotted off the north coast of Cornwall by conservationist Andy Rogers, a member of the Seal Research Trust, who alerted British Divers Marine Life Rescue.
Members of the charity attended the scene on Sunday and removed a discarded paint tin seal from around the animal’s neck.
Commuter’s injuries were not as severe as first thought and he was released back into the wild.
Volunteers from the Seal Research Trust had been tracking Commuter since September 2017 but had been unable to remove the plastic ring because no one could get close enough to him.
His name comes from his routine of taking regular trips up and down the north Cornwall coast.
Sue Sayer, director of the Seal Research Trust, said: “Waiting for a rescue to be organised is hugely stressful.
“Despite Andy’s best efforts to speak to visitors and explain the situation’s need for caution, people on the clifftop still managed to disturb the seals below on three occasions.
“Over the next couple of hours, a third of the seals stampeded into the sea to get away from the perceived threat and Andy’s optimism for a possible rescue was dwindling.
“Luckily, Commuter remained sleeping, so the first opportunity to rescue him in six years was not lost.”
Dan Jarvis, from British Divers Marine Life Rescue, said: “When our team of medics arrived, circumstances were perfect.
“It was low tide, meaning access was at its easiest for us with all the equipment we needed, including a cargo net, herd boards and a stretcher.
“We had medics assist Andy on the clifftop raising awareness of what was happening to prevent further disturbance incidents, while a team of six medics stealthily accessed the cove.
“As there were still a few other seals on the beach, we had to focus on Commuter as the group became aware of us approaching and began heading for the sea.
“Using the cargo net we blocked his escape, while a herd board was used to safely keep two other adult males away from him and the rescue team.
“After a standoff, we were able to wrap Commuter in the net to slow him down, then placed the stretcher on top to safely restrain him so his entanglement and injury could be assessed.”
The team found that the blue, plastic ring had not cut in as deeply as feared.
After the ring was snipped off with bolt cutters, the encircling wound with minor infection was assessed, cleaned out and he was deemed fit to be released.
Mr Rogers, a surveyor for the trust, added: “I am so happy. I would like to thank everyone involved in this major operation.
“Not only was it a huge success for Commuter after more than six years entangled, but also for the rescue team who were able to catch their first, healthy, adult, male seal using a new technique.”