Marine mammal health and welfare is at the heart of what we do.
However, without your help, we may be unable to continue our vital work caring for sick and injured seal pups in Cornwall.
We want to open a brand new, purpose-built seal pup hospital with more than double the capacity we have now.
Who are we?
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) is a national charity dedicated to responding to marine mammals in distress. Since 1988, we have attended thousands of calls to seals, porpoises, dolphins, and whales, utilising our large network of nearly 2000 volunteer ‘BDMLR Marine Mammal Medics’. Our medics attend a course which gives them the knowledge and practical skills to be able to respond to these calls, including carrying out assessments on animals and providing first-aid.
In the UK we are fortunate to share our coastline with some amazing and charismatic species that have captured the human imagination for centuries. Everyone here at BDMLR is passionate about protecting this marine life and helping to conserve it for future generations to come.
Seal pups in danger
Around 90% of our calls are to seal pups. They face numerous threats even during the first few critical months of their lives. Sadly, many of these threats are a result of human activity- be it disturbance of mothers and their young pups, entanglement in discarded fishing gear, or being caught up in the increasing numbers of winter storms we are seeing each year as a result of climate change.
Partly as a result of these threats we are receiving more and more calls to seal pups each year who desperately need our help. They may have become separated prematurely from their mother, or be malnourished, sick or injured.
Our trained volunteers can attend these animals and ensure they are taken to safety. The aim is always to deliver them to a specialist rehabilitation centre as soon as possible, with the hope they are eventually released back to the wild.
BDMLR’s Seal Pup Hospital in Cornwall
Cornwall is one of our busiest regions in the country for calls to seal pups.
For over 10 years now, BDMLR have not only been rescuing pups from around the South-West region, but we have also been taking them into our own seal pup hospital. This hospital acts as an essential overflow for the regions larger rehabilitation centres, and we aim to provide temporary, emergency care for seal pups until spaces become available at the larger centres. There they can fully complete their rehabilitation and get ready for release.
These first few days or weeks of a pups rehabilitation are the riskiest and the time when the level of care required will be at its most intense.
So far, the hospital has admitted over 550 seal pups who would otherwise have had nowhere else to go in their time of need. Each pup’s care has been under the direct supervision of veterinary surgeons experienced with seals and supported by a fantastic community of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure pups are kept comfortable, fed and clean.
The need for growth
As the numbers of calls have increased, so have the numbers of seal pups who require urgent care. This has placed a huge demand on our small hospital, with resources being stretched to their limits and volunteers working around the clock to ensure every pup gets what it needs. With the onset of the COVID pandemic, we have finally reached a critical point.
We are determined to keep up with the demands being placed on us but, with no room for expansion at our current location, to do this we require a new facility to be built.
We want to open a brand new, purpose-built seal pup hospital with more than double the capacity we currently have. The building has been carefully designed to ensure an optimal environment for the pups during their first stage of rehabilitation. It will also feature a state-of-the-art training facility, enabling us to keep our volunteers knowledge up to date with the most recent developments in seal pup care.
We care about people too
At BDMLR, our volunteers are of the upmost importance.
We want to ensure that all our volunteers get the most out of their experience with us.
We have known for some time now that our team of medics benefit a lot from their volunteering with BDMLR. They have shared with us examples of the social, emotional and mental health benefits they gain through participating in deeply meaningful activity where their actions really matter.
Our seal pups are more than recipients of our care, sharing time with them offers the potential to develop vital life qualities such as empathy and compassion.
This hospital’s training facility will enable us to further invest in our volunteers, supporting our team through workshops and mentoring to build upon their emotional literacy and resilience, and enabling our medics to become true ocean advocates within their communities.
What can you do to help?
We are so excited about this project and the security it will provide vulnerable seal pups with for years to come, but to make it happen we urgently need your support.
In order to reach our funding goal we need to raise another £30,000.
You can help our campaign by making a donation, enjoying our rewards, sharing our story on your social media or even by holding your own fundraiser in support of our own (click the 'Start Fundraising' button to get started)!
Any donations, big or small, will be very gratefully received and put to good use helping pups like Desi whose story you can read below.
Desi was rescued one night in November in the midst of stormy weather. He was exhausted, freezing cold and had various injuries. He was rescued by BDMLR medics and taken to our hospital for a full veterinary assessment and further treatment. Despite his temperature coming back up over the following night Desi remained extremely lethargic and the next day seemed to deteriorate further. In the afternoon, one of our medics witnessed Desi being very sick- it seemed he had unfortunately eaten a bird carcass in his search to find something to eat - and this had resulted in a very serious stomach upset.
Desi remained very unstable for the next few days and there were times we thought he wouldn’t make it. Our lead vet gave him a thorough check over each day, carefully monitoring his progress and adjusting the various treatments he was on. Combined with the care from the hospital’s volunteers ensuring he was comfortable and fed appropriately, we eventually saw Desi turn a corner about a week later.
One of our volunteers looking after Desi said: “It was a huge relief when Desi’s health took a positive turn having spent a lot of one to one time with him using various enrichment games to encourage him to eat for himself. Once this clicked for Desi there was no turning back and his appetite grew daily. By the time rehabilitation centre space opened up (17 days after his rescue), Desi was like a completely different seal, a vocal, strong and healthy pup ready to complete his recovery and return to the wild”.
Desi is just one of 108 seal pups we have cared for in this past winter alone- each with their own unique story. Please help us to care for even more pups like him in the future by donating to our campaign and sharing our message as widely as you can.