Port Talbot seal trapped by boulders is rescued

image copyrightRSPCA Cymru
image caption'Miracle' the seal was taken to a seal sanctuary after being freed

A seal that had been trapped by boulders on a south Wales beach for at least two days has been freed following a rescue operation.

The pup - nicknamed Miracle by volunteers - was first spotted stuck on Aberavon Beach in Port Talbot on Sunday.

It had wriggled into a gap between rocks and had been unable to get out.

The RSPCA said a one-tonne boulder was moved by a lifting gantry operated by an engineer to free the pup.

image copyrightRNLI Port Talbot
image captionThe seal became stuck over the weekend

Nic de Celis, from the charity, said it appeared to be unharmed and was taken to a seal sanctuary in Taunton, Somerset.

"Without doubt, this was the most technical and complex rescue I have dealt with as an RSPCA inspector," he said.

"This poor seal pup was trapped amid rocks and boulders, and access to the animal was exceptionally difficult.

"A one-tonne boulder literally had to be moved out of the way, before we safely got hold of the seal and did a thorough welfare assessment."

image copyrightRSPCA Cymru
image captionA lifting gantry was used to lift the rocks at Aberavon Beach

Clive Morris, the RNLI's lifeboat operations manager at Port Talbot, said the pup was trapped in a crevice in the boulders about 3m (10ft) down.

"It's a miracle we got to it and a happy, safe conclusion," he added.

"They placed a lifting rig over the location and then drilled the rocks to stabilise the area. Then they used old fashioned pulleys to lift the rocks and free the seal."

image copyrightRSPCA Cymru
image captionA one-tonne boulder had to be removed

Mr Morris said the RSPCA led the operation which also involved Sea-Lift Diving and British Divers' Marine Life Rescue.

The seal will spend at least a month at the seal sanctuary before it can be released.

Nicki Llewellyn, who lives near the beach, said a friend had told him about the stuck seal.

"One of the guys I surf with said he thought he heard a baby crying, he looked round and spotted it," he added.

image copyrightRNLI Port Talbot
image captionMiracle was stuck in a crevice

One theory is that the seal was startled by fireworks over the weekend and sheltered in the rocks.

An area of the beach was sealed-off on Tuesday while equipment was brought in to lift the boulders and the public was asked to stay away.

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