Seals: Sea Life seal hospital release rehabilitated pup pair - abandoned days after birth - back into wild
Nesquik and Rubicon were both abandoned by their mothers soon after birth, but the seal pups became fast friends while being cared for by wildlife rehabilitators
A pair of once-abandoned pups have received the vet's seal of approval and been released back into their natural habitat, after months of rehabilitation.
Rubicon and Nesquik, two young common seals, were both rescued in June after being found weak and abandoned by their mothers when they were just days old. They were brought in to the NHS – the Norfolk Hospital for Seals – at Sea Life Hunstanton, where they were nursed back to health while undergoing a thorough rehabilitation process, which included building their swimming skills in an outdoor seal pup recovery pool and learning how to eat whole fish by themselves.
Sea Life says Rubicon was underweight when he was first discovered, but quickly grew to a healthy size and was comfortably swimming and eating for himself in no time - recovering quicker than the average seal. Nesquik, the other rescue, also made great process after some necessary TLC. He had been a timid new-born with his umbilical cord still attached when he was found, but later formed a great relationship with Rubicon once the pair were introduced in the later stages of their rehabilitation.
Both seals have now been released together, and although Nesquik was more hesitant at first, they both soon got used to being back in the ocean - swimming out into the open water to begin their new lives back in the wild.
Sea Life Hunstanton general manager Nigel Croasdale said the centre was overjoyed to see Rubicon and Nesquik return to the wild as strong and healthy seals. "While they were weak and unresponsive when discovered, both seals have gone from strength to strength during their rehabilitation," he said. “As seal season comes to a close, we’re thrilled that we’ve managed to successfully release our seal rescues back into the wild, so they can begin their new journeys."
The team at Sea Life Hunstanton spent an extensive amount of time with both pups to ensure that they returned to full health, Mr Croasdale continued, as well as helping them adjust to swimming in deeper waters for longer periods and assisting with their hunting skills. Rubicon and Nesquik were just two of the many seals that the centre had rescued in Norfolk and its surrounding counties - with the area known for its dense population of grey and common seals.
Seal season typically lasts from June until September, although it can run longer. During this period, abandoned pups are rescued and rehabilitated with food, medication and veterinary care and released to the wild – a process which can cost upwards of £5,000 per rescue. The patients are often brand-new pups and require feeding every few hours.
Sea Life says the animal care team onsite provide everything they need to help them grow strong, before the seals move to a larger pool with other pups of similar abilities so they can socialise. They are then introduced to the main seal pool until they reach the target weight of 25kg, at which point they can be safely returned to the wild.
As well as the sea hospital, Mr Croasdale said the Hunstanton centre was also home to six "adorable resident seals" who are unable to survive in the wild on their own - called Sally, Amber, Callie, Lora, Macey and Pippa.