A pair of rescued seal pups were released back in to the wild this week following treatment at Tynemouth Blue Reef Aquarium’s Marine Rescue Centre.
The grey seal pups were originally rescued in January after they were found apparently abandoned on the Northumberland coastline.
They were both starving, dehydrated and very underweight; with one weighing 11kg and the other at 15kg. A healthy seal pup at 14 days old should way around 20kg, and they would not have survived without help.
The pups, both males, were brought in to the Blue Reef Marine Rescue Centre by the RSPCA, and were looked after by volunteers from the charity Pawz for Thought.
During their treatment the pair were able to be viewed by visitors via a television screen, which ensured they did not become too familiarised with humans before being released back into the wild.
Both of the seal pups have made excellent recoveries and are now eating well, putting on weight, exercising a lot and interacting with each other.
At the time of their release they both weighed over 30kg.
Blue Reef Aquarium’s Caitlin Shields, who took part in the release, said: “It’s an amazing feeling when you watch the pups return to the wild.
“They took a couple of seconds to adjust to their surroundings after being released out of the kennels and then went straight into the water. One of the pups even started playing with some seaweed before swimming off.
“If they had not been rescued when they were then both of them would have almost certainly died. They have made a pretty much full recovery thanks to the care and attention of the volunteers and have been given a second chance at life,” she added.
The seal pups had a temporary yellow marker sprayed on to their back to help identify them. This will eventually wash off and is entirely harmless to them.
In the last 12 years more than 220 seals have been treated at the aquarium before being transferred to the RSPCA rehabilitation centre in Norfolk.
If you do come along a seal on the beach this does not always mean they need help.
You should keep your distance (at least 100 metres) and observe to see if the parent returns. Observing from too near a distance can discourage the adult seal from returning.
Look out for these signs:
• The seal is obviously injured (bleeding).
• You know the seal is an orphan (dead parent is observed).
• The pup has been alone for several hours without a parent visible.
• A seal pup is seriously underweight.
• The pup appears distressed or non-responsive.
If an animal is truly orphaned or injured, it needs prompt attention. Contact the RSPCA, Blue Reef Aquarium or Pawz for Thought.
Issued by the Blue Reef Aquarium. For more information please contact Caitlin Shields or Rosie Wiggin on 0191 258 1031.