Page last updated at 13:44 GMT, Thursday, 18 February 2010

Seals rescued in Cornwall released back into wild

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The seals were rescued after a period of bad weather

Four seal pups which were nursed back to health after being rescued from Cornish beaches have been set free.

The seals were all found injured towards the end of last year and were cared for by the National Seal Sanctuary at Gweek.

The youngest was a malnourished two-week-old found at Porthmeor in St Ives.

Another, Sirius, an eight-week-old pup, was found dehydrated at Gwithian in December. He also had a mouth ulcer and puncture wounds on his rear flippers.

Staff at the sanctuary, who named the two-week old grey seal pup Malfoy, said it was heartbreaking to see such a young pup separated from its mother.

He weighed only 14kg (2.2st) and had to be taught how to feed himself.

It's sad to see them go, but it's a 'happy' sad
Laura Ward, National Seal Sanctuary

The other two seal pups released at Porthtowan beach, named Scarlett and Triffid, were rescued in November and were both malnourished.

The animal sanctuary said all four pups were rescued after a period of bad weather.

"Sadly, it's not uncommon after the weather's been bad," a spokeswoman said.

"The pups can get dragged away from their mothers or they simply tire or are beaten on rocks."

Sanctuary assistant Jenna Blacow, who helped with the release, said the trickiest part of the operation was rounding the four healthy seals up and catching them to transport them to the beach.

"They seemed quite excited to be here - they could probably smell the sea air," she said.

The seals were released one at a time, but when it was time for Triffid to take to the waves, the pup appeared to get cold feet and kept following staff back up the beach.

After about 45 minutes of coaxing, staff hid themselves and watched while the seal slowly, and reluctantly, made his bid for freedom.

"It was lovely when he kept looking back at us - really cute," sanctuary assistant Laura Ward said.

"It's been quite emotional. It's sad to see them go, but it's a 'happy' sad."



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