A seal rescued in “some of the most dramatic circumstances imaginable” in Port Talbot has been returned to the wild by the RSPCA, following six months of rehabilitation.
Video footage captured the heartwarming moment the seal was returned to the wild, after playing the starring role in one of the most high-profile rescues undertaken by the RSPCA in 2017.
The animal welfare charity had led a multi-agency operation in November to save the seal. She had become trapped amid heavy rocks and boulders by a sea wall near the town’s steelworks – known locally as ‘Aberavon Pier’.
Boulders weighing an estimated three tonnes had to be moved to secure access to the trapped seal – with an engineer manoeuvring a modular-type specialist lifting gantry to secure access.
She was nicknamed Miracle by onlookers in Port Talbot given the circumstances behind the rescue, and was later given the name Marina when in RSPCA care.
A number of agencies supported the RSPCA with the rescue, including Associated British Ports, Sea-Lift Diving, British Divers’ Marine Life Rescue, RNLI and Neath Port Talbot Council. RSPCA Llys Nini branch kindly contributed funding towards the hire of the equipment which broke the boulders.
The seal has subsequently undergone a lengthy period in RSPCA care, with staff at the West Hatch Wildlife Centre needing to ensure she was a healthy weight and fit enough to be released.
After six months of care and support, Marina was released at Combe Martin on the North Devon coast last Thursday morning (May 3), along with seven other seals rehabilitated at the RSPCA’s Taunton-based wildlife centre.
RSPCA animal collection officer Ellie West said: “It was absolutely fantastic to be at Combe Martin and watch Marina, aka Miracle, be returned to where she belongs.
“She has been through a memorable journey in RSPCA care, requiring six months of specialist care to ensure she was fit and ready to be released. The staff at the RSPCA’s West Hatch wildlife centre have been absolutely incredible with her.
“Her rescue was truly one of the most remarkable the RSPCA was involved with in 2017, amid some of the most dramatic circumstances imaginable.
“Boulders weighing approximately three tonnes had to be moved out of the way to free this seal back in November; and we were proud to work with a host of agencies to complete this most complex and technical of rescues.
“Six months on, and this release proves how worthwhile it all was. Marina is truly a miracle seal!”
If you wish to help RSPCA Cymru complete rescues such as this, you can donate online. An urgent appeal has been launched by the RSPCA to help orphaned, injured and sick seals. The RSPCA is a charity and relies on public donations.