Seal pups released on Gower beach at sunrise after months of rehabilitation
Two grey seal pups have been released on a Gower beach at sunrise following months of rehabilitation.
The pair were returned to the wild at Port Eynon beach in south Wales on January 3 by RSPCA staff.
One seal had been originally rescued from Abereiddy beach in Pembrokeshire, while the other was from Trevone bay in Cornwall.
They were both found in distress, underweight and with injuries.
RSPCA animal officer Ellie West released the pups with RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben, who took images of the event.
“This was such a lovely release – to see them both enter the sea happily where they belong with the sun rising in the distance was just glorious,” Ms West said.
“It was a lovely way to start the new year.”
The seals, nicknamed BB8 and Luke Skywalker, had spent months in rehabilitation at RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre in Hastings.
They were transferred from there on January 2 and spent the night at the RSPCA Llys Nini Branch seal unit before being released.
Both Ms West and Mr Hogben had been involved in the initial care of the seal, nicknamed BB8, that was rescued from Abereiddy beach in October.
He was a weaned pup but was underweight, lethargic and looked unwell with a lump on the top of his neck.
Welsh Marine Life Rescue collected the pup and cared for him for a few days until he could be transferred to Hastings, where vets removed his lump under anaesthetic.
The second seal, nicknamed Luke Skywalker, was taken into RSPCA care in November, weighing just 16.3kg.
He had suffered from small wounds and was wheezy, with staff treating him for lungworm and administering antibiotics.
When he left the centre he weighed a healthy 40kg.
Before release, the seals were given identification tags in their hind flippers.
An RSPCA spokesman urged members of the public not to approach seals that might need assistance.
“Seals are wild animals and have a nasty bite. Never try to return a seal to water yourself, as you may put yourselves and the seal at risk by doing this,” the spokesman said.
“It is also advised they keep dogs away from any seal and keep them on leads on beaches that have seal colonies too.”
It is not unusual for a seal pup to be alone as mothers leave their pups early on in life.
If a seal pup appears fit and healthy, showing no signs of distress, it should firstly be monitored from a safe distance for 24 hours.
People should contact the RSPCA advice and cruelty line on 0300 1234 999 if a seal pup’s mother does not return within 24 hours, if it is on a busy public beach or if it may be sick or injured.