Riley was rescued on 9th March 2009
On the 12th February 2009 volunteers from the Cornwall Seal Group and Research Trust (CSGRT) reported seeing a young male grey seal pup with monofilament fishing net entangled around the neck. Estimated to be 2 months old, and with a lot of growing still to do, the netting was already beginning to restrict his movement and cause a small gash around the neck.
With a worrying prognosis, over the following weeks the CSGRT and British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) medics kept a close look out for the seal, during which time he hauled out a handful of times on one of the busiest seal breeding beaches in the South West. Largely inaccessible to humans due to the steep 200ft cliff and being cut off by the tide, the cove is a perfect spot for seals to give birth, but less then ideal for a rescue attempt!

Finally, on the 9th March 2009 the seal hauled out on low tide with around fifteen other seals offering the best opportunity so far to attempt a rescue.

Photo Credit : Sue Sayer - Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust (CSGRT)* - February 2009
Riley - CSGRT - Sue Sayer
With the tide coming in, BDMLR medics and the CSGRT arranged for a climbing team to assist Tamara, Animal Care Supervisor, and Tim, BDMLR Area Coordinator, to abseil down to the cove. Already a small group of seals had spotted the team and headed into the water, but luckily the netted seal had not noticed their presence. The team still did not know how many other seals were in the sea cave behind the seal and when these seals saw the rescuers they would almost certainly stampede into the water, possibly taking the netted seal with them.

As the team approached the far side of the beach this is exactly what happened and around fifteen to twenty seals stampeded towards the water. Luckily the netted seal had a very distinctive dark pelage and Tamara and Tim were able to easily single him out and block his route to the sea. Wrapped in a towel he was moved away from the other seals so he could be properly assessed. The netting had caused a nasty 1½ inch gash all the way around the neck and although it looked clean, could easily become infected if not treated. Despite the injury he appeared to be in good condition weighing a healthy 32 kilos. Tamara and Tim cut the netting off and placed him in a seal bag to haul him back up the cliff before placing him in a cage ready for the transport back to the sanctuary.
Photos Credit (below) : Sue Sayer - CSGRT
Tamara and Tim have the seal and heading towards the cliff - photo copyright of Sue Sayer of Cornwall Seal Group Tamara checks Riley is OK - photo copyright of Sue Sayer of Cornwall Seal Group Tamara with the netting - photo copyright of Sue Sayer of Cornwall Seal Group
Back at the Sanctuary the Animal Care Team cleaned the wound, took blood samples and finally decided on a name; "Riley", after the local Head & Head vet, Paul Riley, who is celebrating his 10th year working with the Sanctuary.

Riley´s wound is healing quickly, but despite appearances his blood results suggested he was fighting an infection for which he is receiving a course of antibiotics as well as an anti-inflammatory. Riley is expected to make a speedy recovery and the team hope he will be ready for release within the next 6 weeks.
Riley in the CSS hospital
The Sanctuary would like to thank the continued support of Sue Sayer and all the volunteers of the CSGRT, the endless support and assistance from BDMLR Director Dave Jarvis, Area Coordinator Tim Bain and all the medics involved in seal rescue and monitoring, and the National Trust for their valuable information and assistance in all seal related matters at the cove.   Click here to read a BBC article about Riley and his rescue.
Update: April 2009 - Riley along with other rescued seal pups, Paul and Rosie, were released back into the wild on 2nd April 2009.

Riley´s flipper tag number is 21 (red).
Update: 29th February 2024 - Riley was seen at haul-outs along the coast of Cornwall on 15th November 2010, 19th March 2011, 9th May 2011, 23rd November 2011, 31st December 2011, 7th, 13th & 23rd January 2012, 3rd February 2012, 3rd October 2012, 21st November 2012, 20th December 2012, 29th April 2013,

Photo Credit : Sue Sayer - CSGRT - 15th November 2010
15th September 2013, 9th October 2013, 10th, 14th & 19th October 2013, 4th November 2013, 12th & 16th December 2013, 13th January 2014, 6th, 7th & 10th February 2014, 1st & 15th December 2014, 19th & 22nd January 2015, 2nd February 2015, 25th May 2015, 24th September 2015, 1st, 5th & 26th October 2015, 5th & 23rd November 2015, 25th January 2016, 3rd November 2016, 7th & 10th November 2016, 8th, 19th, 22nd & 28th December 2016, 25th September 2017, 26th October 2017, 2nd, 6th, 9th & 30th November 2017,

Photo Credit : Simon Bone - CSGRT - 15th September 2013.
4th December 2017, 22nd & 29th January 2018, 12th April 2018, 6th December 2018, 3rd January 2019, 23rd & 26th September 2019, 10th, 17th & 31st October 2019, 13th January 2020, 11th & 26th March 2020, 14th, 20th & 29th October 2020, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 18th & 19th November 2020, 11th, 14th & 18th January 2021, 1st February 2021, 15th March 2021,

Photo Credit (below) : Sue Sayer - CSGRT - 31st October 2019.
20th, 29th & 30th September 2021, 7th, 8th, 17th & 18th November 2021, 16th December 2021, 1st & 13th January 2022, 17th & 26th September 2022, 18th October 2022, 5th January 2023, 16th & 20th February 2023 and 29th February 2024 by members of the CSGRT*.

© Photo Credit (below) : Sue Sayer - CSGRT* on 26th September 2022
Riley - 26th September 2022
*Members of the CSGRT volunteer hundreds of hours of their own time to photo, identify and watch over the seals around the Cornish coast.

Each seal´s fur pattern is unique and enables the CSGRT volunteers track them for life. Seals face many challenges, yet we all depend on them to balance our marine ecosystem, this is essential to make the oxygen we breathe. Seals are our globally rare wildlife tourist attraction, helping diversify coastal economic prosperity.

We would like to share the amazing story of Riley, this incredibly lucky entangled seal who was rescued in 2009 by the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), rehabilitated at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary, and released back in the wild.   The wonderful news is...he is still being ID´d today!!!   Healthy and Thriving.

By monitoring the behaviour of seals after release back into the wild, the Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust, BDMLR and CSS, can use this information to define the best practice standards and policies for rescue, rehab and release that are shared with the international rescue community.

Find out more about Riley´s here to read.
Meet Riley, an incredibly lucky entangled seal, and hear his story!

Seal Pup Rescues Season - 2008/2009