TWO seals have been released into waters off the north Antrim coast to begin a new life in the wild.
The sea mammals Hans and Albert were brought to Ballintoy Harbour and released yesterday by Exploris Aquarium and Seal Sanctuary.
The seals had been with the south Down animal sanctuary since the summer.
As both seals arrived with injuries, they received extensive medical care to ensure infections were kept at bay and were housed in hospital pens until they were well enough to start their journey to rehabilitation.
In September, once the seals reached around 15Kg and were eating by themselves, they were moved together to the nursery pool.
Both seals soon gained more weight - including a thick layer of blubber - which will ensure they are kept warm during the winter months.
Before their release both seals were microchipped so their progress can be monitored.
Ann Moreland, General Manager of Exploris, said: "We receive and record a high volume of calls direct to our dedicated seal helpline and our team spring into action, reviewing, assessing and where necessary, rescuing and returning the injured or orphaned pup to our rehabilitation unit where our team can care for them around the clock, if necessary.
"For our first release this season we have chosen to visit the north Antrim Coast in acknowledgement of the continued support from DAERA and the Conservation Team at the Coastal Zone in Portrush, and to return one of our seals (Albert), to his original location and hopefully into the common seal colony that exists, just off the north Coast".