What a beautiful moment!
Two seals who have spent time in RSPCA care have been released back into the wild at Port Eynon, Gower.
One seal had been rescued from Freshwater West by Welsh Marine Life Rescue (WMLR) – before being transferred into the care of the RSPCA in October – and the other had been rescued from Barafundle Bay in November.
Following their rehabilitation at RSPCA Mallydams Wood wildlife centre, in Fairlight, near Hastings, the two seals – who were ready for release following a long road to recovery – returned to the waters of South Wales on 15 January.
RSPCA animal collection officer Ellie West and RSPCA inspector Leigh Summers were the lucky officers who witnessed the moment they returned to sea. The seals who had been nicknamed Mrs Coulter and Pan (both characters from His Dark Materials) enjoyed familiarising themselves with the beach before swimming off into the sunset.
Mrs Coulter (rescued from Barafundle) came into RSPCA care with puncture wounds and weighed 13.6kg. She received treatment for respiratory problems at the wildlife centre, but once fully recovered she weighed 40kg.
Pan – who was 16kg on admission – arrived with wounds and respiratory problems. Following lots of TLC from staff, the pup’s final weight was 45kg.
Ellie said it was a special moment. “It really is something I don’t think I will ever grow tired of seeing,” she said. “It is always the best part of the job – to see an animal who had been in trouble – go back to where they belong.
“For all the seals that come into RSPCA care the road to recovery is usually a long one, as it takes time to build up their strength and get them to an ideal weight where they will be strong enough to survive in the wild.”
Ellie explained that the seal that she had rescued from Barafundle may have been disturbed by members of the public.
“We had originally assessed her at Broadhaven South, but was deemed fit and well,” said Ellie. “We spray marked her and left her on the beach as her mother was in the bay.
“The close proximity of concerned public to the pup could have been a factor in the mother not returning, and five days later she had lost condition and had a few infected puncture wounds so she was taken into our care for treatment.”
RSPCA Cymru urges people – however well meaning – not to attempt to capture or handle an injured seal and to stay well away.
“It’s not unusual to see a seal pup by itself, as their mothers will leave the pups alone very early on in life. If you find a seal pup that looks fit and healthy and shows no signs of distress, monitor it first from a safe distance for 24 hours.
“However, if the mother doesn’t return after 24 hours or the pup appears distressed, injured or unwell, or is on a busy public beach, our 24-hour emergency line can be reached on 0300 1234 999. Never attempt to encourage a seal resting on a beach back into the sea. Please always stay at a safe distance and keep dogs well away and on leads – seals can have a very nasty bite. ”
If you see an animal you have concerns about please call the RSPCA’s emergency line on 0300 1234 999. For more information on what to do if you see a seal pup on a beach, visit the RSPCA’s website at: https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/wildlife/orphanedanimals/sealpups
To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing wild animals in desperate need of care please visit our website/www.rspca.org.uk/give or call our donation line on 0300 123 8181.