This month the National Trust broke the exciting news that Suffolk has its first grey seal colony.

With 130 grey seal pups born in the Orford Ness rookery this season and with adults usually returning to the same beach to give birth in subsequent years, it is hoped that this colony will flourish and become an important breeding site for the species.

East Anglian Daily Times: A harbour seal being cared for by volunteers at a unit in TrimleyA harbour seal being cared for by volunteers at a unit in Trimley (Image: JOHN BOYLE)There is already a population of harbour seals, mostly in Norfolk, that have their pups during the summer months.

Although the establishment of a Suffolk seal population is warmly welcomed by nature lovers, local seal guardians are worried for the future welfare of newborns.

With potentially hundreds of vulnerable white coat pups on our beaches during winter months, local representatives of a UK charity are raising concerns that they need to prepare for an influx of young seals requiring assistance.

East Anglian Daily Times: British Divers Marine Life Rescue training on Sizewell beachBritish Divers Marine Life Rescue training on Sizewell beach (Image: JOHN BOYLE)The (BDMLR) is a national charity with a team of medic volunteers based in Suffolk.

Formed in 1988 when a few like-minded divers jointly responded to a mass mortality of seals in East Anglia, seal rescue has remained a major part of the charity’s work.

This year, the Suffolk team has been extremely busy assisting both harbour seal pups and grey seal pups in distress whilst also helping to rescue both species in Norfolk and sometimes Essex too.

East Anglian Daily Times: Jo Collins with a new arrivalJo Collins with a new arrival (Image: JOHN BOYLE)

Jo Collins from the charity explains: “In the Felixstowe area we have a good team of BDMLR trained medics who not only rescue seal pups but also assist with the subsequent care of the youngsters.

"This is done on a voluntary basis with the patients needing up to four care visits a day. At present we only have two pens so can only take care of two pups at a time.

"I am working along with a colleague to try and gain funding to expand the existing facilities and would welcome any available support.

"We are keen to have the ability to care for more seals as numbers are increasing in our area. In the year between 2022/2023, we cared for 20 seal pups in the rescue unit at Trimley St Mary.

"In the year 2023/2024, we have already cared for 48 seal pups so far.”

East Anglian Daily Times: Treating an injured flipper Treating an injured flipper (Image: JOHN BOYLE)

Behind the scenes a network of benevolent organisations supports the volunteers who provide the lifesaving work.

The Suffolk Mobile Seal Rescue Unit (MSRU), a converted horse box trailer, has been financed by the Seal Action Protection Group and is located at Whitworth Veterinary Practice where they generously also supply essential water and electricity and in-house medical expertise.

It is only intended as a short-term treatment facility and once the seals’ condition has stabilised, they are relocated to a larger RSPCA unit or wildlife hospital to complete their recovery and rehabilitation.

East Anglian Daily Times: A medic demonstrates a dolphin rescueA medic demonstrates a dolphin rescue (Image: JOHN BOYLE)

On BDMLR training days, volunteers learn how to rescue seals and re-float larger marine mammals such as dolphins, porpoises and small whales.

Life-like water filled models of a dolphin and a two-tonne whale named Wally are used to simulate realistic strandings and rescues.

East Anglian Daily Times: Wally whale with trainees and instructor Wally whale with trainees and instructor (Image: JOHN BOYLE)

The Marine Mammal Medic Course (MMMC) is open to anyone over the age of 18 - you do not have to be a diver.

It is a full day training programme designed to provide the basic knowledge, skills and expertise to enable the volunteer teams to respond to a callout, assess and, if necessary, assist distressed animals.

East Anglian Daily Times: A patient in the MSRU A patient in the MSRU (Image: JOHN BOYLE)

On successful completion of the course, volunteers are added to a database which is used to alert medics of nearby marine mammals in difficulty.

The next Suffolk training day will be held at Carlton Marshes on 7th April 2024.

Further details can be found at, although online booking for the above session is not yet active.