Rescue fund gets seal of approval

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A Tiree sea tours business has come to the rescue of volunteers saving wildlife on the island.

When Frazer MacInnes, who co-runs runs Tiree Sea Tours, heard about a fundraising appeal to buy a specialist seal stretcher he offered to pay the lot.

Volunteers on Tiree have got used to ‘making do’ with make-shift kit to help them get seals and other wildlife out of danger but after a recent seal rescue decided to launch a Justgiving appeal to buy a specially-manufactured stretcher so it would be much easier to carry them along the beaches and rocky shoreline.

Previously, a makeshift transporter was made from two fish boxes to release a rescued seal back to the sea.
Photograph: Louise Reid
The new stretcher arrived last and the team has had a chance to practice with it so are ready to go.

A volunteer’s coat was used to wrap up the latest rescued seal,  putting it into a holdall bag and getting it to the vets after it was discovered at wave battered Balevullin in need of fluids and rest.

The next day the young common seal was ready to go back to the wild and the volunteers had to tie a couple of fish boxes together to transport it.

Hayley Douglas from Tiree Ranger Service, who was one of its rescuers, told us: ‘The seal was off like a rocket when it arrived back on the beach. We were all ecstatic but also discussed how we could improve on our rescues in the future.’

Hayley contacted 1-2-1 Animal Handling Products who make shark carriers for moving animals between aquariums and they were so intrigued by her request that they offered one of their stretchers at a discounted price.

‘That evening we put the story out about the recent seal rescue along with a link to a Justgiving page and a target of £500. Within an hour of the page being set up I got a message from Frazer MacInnes. Tiree Sea Tours wanted to pay for the stretcher!’ said Hayley.

Frazer told Hayley his business, which takes people out looking for dolphins, whales, seals and basking sharks, relies on the wildlife in the waters around Tiree, so it was  important they helped look after them too.

‘I let the team know and by the next day we were buzzing as not only had we
had this great news, we had exceeded our fundraising target to £695,’ Hayley added.

The new stretcher has now arrived and the volunteers, who include members of British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), are also now in the process of ordering some other essential pieces of kits, including transport carriers to keep the seals safe on their journeys off the island into rehabilitation if they need it.

‘We are incredibly grateful to Tiree Sea Tours, 1-2-1 Animal Handling Products and all the generous supporters of our appeal which will ensure the safety of rescued seals and
cetaceans in the coming years on Tiree,’ said Hayley.