A SEAL caught in a lobster line around 80 metres off Shetland’s northernmost island had its life saved by three local people who braved choppy seas to come to its rescue on Wednesday.
Belmont House property manager Sharon Calladine, originally from Australia and now living in Haroldswick in Unst, spotted the seal on Tuesday afternoon while driving to the local shop.
Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary was alerted the following morning and to save time a local rescue attempt was co-ordinated.
The sanctuary’s Jan Bevington said: “We would have headed up to Unst ourselves, but it would have been getting dark by the time we reached Haroldswick after catching two ferries to get to Unst, so it made more sense to get local people to help the selkie if anyone was willing.”
Local boat owner Tony Budge agreed to help and together with Calladine set off in his dinghy, while local woman June Harrison stayed ashore holding a rope attached to the boat for safety.
Receiving advice on the phone, they managed to hook the lobster line and dragged the buoy and the seal into shallower water where they felt safer before attempting to cut it free.
“We could see the rope was around the seal’s neck and it had a knot in it, almost as if the seal had swum through it and made a figure of eight,” Calladine said.
“Holding the seal as close as we possibly could to the boat, which was a little bit scary, we sliced the rope underneath the seal, thinking it could work its own way loose, which it did.
“As soon as it was free it started swimming around with another seal that had been nearby the whole time. It was as if they were playing, there was lots of splashing.”
Jan Bevington said: “This was an absolutely fantastic job that Sharon, Tony and June did, taking all the right safety precautions in what was no doubt a very difficult scenario, especially with the weather conditions.
“It’s great to know we have unsung heroes like this who are willing and able to come to the rescue of our marine mammals, who all too often get caught up in hazards such as this.”
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