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EDITIONS
 Sunday, 19 January, 2003, 11:52 GMT
Orphaned seals return to sea
Mammals got too big for their pool
Mammals got too big for their pool
Orphaned seals who could not be released into the wild because of a deadly virus outbreak, have now returned to their natural habitat.

The mammals were getting too big for their pool at the Exploris sanctuary at Portaferry in County Down.

With the virus having now subsided, it was thought safe to release the seals.

It took quite a few muscles when it came to moving the seals

Tanya Johnston
Exploris

Tanya Johnston of Exploris said they had been at the sanctuary for an extra three months.

"We have had to continue feeding them and they have continued to gain weight and get very fat - they are complete big balls at the moment," she said.

"It took quite a few muscles when it came to moving the seals."

'Rehabilitate'

The seals' pool was emptied in order to catch them and provided staff with an opportunity to clean it.

They were put on scales for a final check and then put into a huge water tank and released at a secret location on Strangford Lough.
Tanya Johnston:
Tanya Johnston: "Sad to see them go"

"I am always sad to see them go, but at the end of the day this is what it is all about - we are here to rescue and rehabilitate seals and ultimately to release them back into the wild," said Tanya.

"So it is brilliant to know that we have rescued seals that would have otherwise died in the wild and now have a second chance of survival."

The decision to release the seals at the spot on the County Down coast was not accidental - there is a seal colony on nearby rocks.

It is hoped the released seals will now join that colony.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  BBC NI's Mike McKimm:
"The seals' pool was emptied in order to catch them and provided staff with an opportunity to clean it"
See also:

16 Jan 03 | England
09 Oct 02 | N Ireland
18 Sep 02 | England
12 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
Links to more N Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.


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