Couple spends first four months of marriage tending to baby seals

December 6, 2013 4:04 PM

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Couple spends first four months of marriage tending to baby seals

Couple Eddie Stebbings and Bee Bueche are 'wildlife wardens' who spent the first four months of their marriage tending to baby Atlantic grey seals on Skomer Island off the Pembrokeshire coast during the birthing season.

A newlywed couple was stranded on a remote island three miles from the mainland when a giant bull seal climbed into its inflatable dinghy and refused to budge for four days.

Eddie Stebbings, 35, and his bride, Bee Bueche, 36, spent their first three months of married life together with a colony of Atlantic grey seals on Skomer Island off the Pembrokeshire coast.

But their wildlife adventure took an unexpected turn when a giant seal set up residence in the dinghy they used to reach the mainland.

Eddie and Bee were married in August and returned to the windswept island where they are wildlife wardens just in time for seal pup season.

"One morning in October the seal flopped itself into the boat," Eddie said.

"It refused to budge for four days and was at one point joined by another seal.

"He was about four times my weight, eight-foot long and clearly not worried about people coming close to him."

The couple chose to spend its honeymoon on one of Britain's most remote islands, which they shared with more than 400 adult seals.

They also saved 108 baby seals after a cow seal gave birth on the pebble beach and in the island's caves.

"It's been an interesting start to married life for us — we have shared it with the seals," Eddie said.

"They are joy to watch, but we try not to interfere with them too much — we have to let nature take its course."

"We have been out with them every day since — even when that hurricane blew up we were on the cliffs checking on the seals," he added.

"Skomer is only a small island, so 180 baby seals is a lot to keep an eye on."

Eddie risked his life most days by abseiling down sheer 200-foot cliffs to get to the pups, which were marked with a special waterproof dye, to identify them.

He even had to climb into a cave to rescue one seal pup, which had become trapped on a ledge.

"We have seen nature in all its glory but sometimes it can be quite cruel," Eddie said.

Eddie and German-born Bee witnessed female seals try to steal newborn pups from another mother seal.

And they saw other baby seals being abandoned by their parents and left to starve.

"When they are very young their calls are a bit like human babies, but I tried not to get too emotionally involved," Bee said.

"I christened one Punky because he had sticky-up fur, and another one Carrot because of a carrot-shaped marking he has."

Eddie and Bee have left the island for the winter and will spend the next four months writing up detailed reports of their seal and bird studies.

Skomer, managed by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, is one of Britain's most important bird sanctuary islands.

"The island is in good hands with Eddie and Bee — they are dedicated to its wildlife and have fallen in love with its seals," a spokeswoman for the Trust said.

Source: nydailynews.com

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