Seals Pups get a second Chance at Life
By Jake Keeton

Thursday, 10th December 2020
This past Thursday, 10th December 2020, marked yet another successful seal release. Once again our assistance was requested by Dr Greg Hofmeyr from
Bayworld PE. Greg informed me that they had a large number of pups that had been rescued on the beaches around Cannon Rocks. These pups, most of which were less than a month old were washed away from there colony on Black Rocks next to Bird Island during a storm that produced big swells that coincided with a spring high tide. I find it amazing how these young Cape Fur Seal pups survived the swim through the stormy sea conditions some 40km to Cannon Rocks. The rescued pups had to wait patiently at Bayworld Oceanarium and Museum while we kept a close eye on the weather forecasts, waiting for the the first possible gap to make the long boat trip to Bird Island to return the pups to their colony in the hope that they will be found and cared for by their mothers. It is of utmost importance that the pups make it back to their colony as fast as possible to increase the chance of their mothers continuing to suckle them. To keep the pups in a healthy condition while they awaited their release they were tube fed a rehydration mixture every second day and those with wounds were seen to by a vet that tends to all the marine life at Bayworld.
 
With Thursday morning came the perfect sea conditions to make the long run to Bird Island. After a two hour boat ride we found ourselves at Black Rocks ready to release the pups by 08:30. The pictures below show Greg Hofmeyr of Bayworld, myself and fellow Raggy Charters Skipper Warren Tarboton, releasing the pups at Black Rocks. Greg's expertise was invaluable in ensuring that the pups made it onto the rocks safely. With the young pups still being relatively poor swimmers and having poor eyesight we had to give them a gentle toss through the air to land them as close to the rocks as possible so they see which is the correct direction to swim in to climb onto the rocks. We released 37 young pubs and 1 yearling.
 
We stayed close to the island for some time, observing the newly released pups as they maneuvered around the small island searching and calling for there mums. Driven by their hunger after bottle sucking for 6 days the pups were persistent in their efforts. Some pups out of desperation tried to suckle from female seals that were not their mother's. This resulted in the pups either being ignored, bitten or tossed away high into the air. It was difficult to watch as the pups searched for their mums. As we were about to leave our spirits were lifted by the sight of one of the released pups reuniting with its mum and her allowing the pup to suckle. In that moment we new that it was all worth it. If the pups were not released on Thursday they all would of had to be euthanized.
We left the island with high hopes and returned two days later to see how the pups were doing. We circled the seal colony searching for the little green tags that identified the newly released pups. To our delight we spotted a number of the pups sleeping happily on the island and a few more following their mums. Only time will tell how many of the pups survived, but it feels good to know that for at least a few of them, they have been given a second chance.

Seals Pups get a second Chance at Life

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