An underweight seal who spent around eight weeks in RSPCA care has been released back into the wild.
The seal, who was initially rescued by Welsh Marine Life Rescue (WMLR) at St Brides in Pembrokeshire on 10 January, was transferred into RSPCA care on 13 January and taken to the RSPCA’s Mallydams Wood wildlife centre – where staff named him Graham.
RSPCA animal collection officer and wildlife officer Ellie West – who released Graham back into the sea at Port Eynon – said: “This seal pup – who when found was very underweight – initially spent a few days coughing up sea shells!
“He came into the centre weighing just 16.6kg and needed fluids and antibiotics for a chest infection and was treated for lungworm. He put on weight pretty steadily after starting to eat by himself on day six and then didn’t look back.
“Thanks to this spell of rehabilitation at our wildlife centre he was fit enough to be released at Port Eynon in the Gower on the weekend. It is so rewarding to see them go back to where they belong.
“We give all the seals we rescue and release identification tags on their hind flippers. We do get good feedback from sightings and even see some of the seals we release with their own young – which highlights the importance of this rescue work.”
Ellie – who carried out the release on Saturday (7 March) – was lucky enough to have a helping hand from some eager volunteers.
“Gareth Richards – who is a volunteer for the National Trust and has volunteered for the RSPCA at West Hatch Wildlife Centre – joined me and coincidentally he was with a group of teenagers who were from Llanelli Police Cadets. It was great to have some extra help and they were able to see the seal being released and helped to carry the release cage.
“I’d like to thank them all for their assistance – and I hope they enjoyed the experience as well. We’re also very grateful to WMLR, who do incredible work with us in looking out for seals in distress.”
Gareth said: “The group of Llanelli Police Cadets were very keen to get up early and witness a very emotional yet exciting experience of seeing Graham disappear back where he belongs. In fact we’ve adopted him as our Unit Mascot.”
RSPCA Cymru continues to urge people – however well meaning – not to attempt to capture or handle an injured seal and to stay well away.
Ellie said: “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. ”