Sunday 25 August 2019

Rescued seal named after Sir David Attenborough released into the wild

The adult male grey seal was found with a frisbee stuck round his neck and nursed back to health by the RSPCA.

By Sam Russell, PA

A seal who was found with a plastic frisbee ring stuck around his neck has been nursed back to health and released into the wild.

The severely injured adult male grey seal was rescued by volunteers at Horsey beach in Norfolk in April and taken to an RSPCA centre at East Winch, near King’s Lynn.

Staff there named him Sir David, after Sir David Attenborough, whose Blue Planet II series raised awareness of the environmental damage caused by plastic pollution.

The seal was released on Winterton beach in Norfolk on Wednesday after growing from 125kg (19st 9lb) to 200kg (31st 6lb).

There had been multiple sightings of the seal with the frisbee around his neck but he could not be caught until he weakened.

Volunteers from Friends of Horsey Seals and Marine and Wildlife Rescue used a net to catch him.

Alison Charles, manager of the RSPCA centre, said Sir David was “in a right state” when he was brought in, adding that the frisbee caused a “huge, deep, extensive wound” to his neck that became infected.

She said she was “really pleased at how well his wounds healed” and thanked all those who helped, including the public who helped fund his recovery.

Sir David required regular salt baths as part of his rehabilitation, with the public donating more than £4,000 towards the cost of salt, medication and fish.

The frisbee was cut off by a vet using surgical scissors and Sir David was given antibiotics and painkillers.

Ms Charles said when Sir David’s wound was clean they moved him to an outdoor pool to build his strength and fitness.

“It was all about good nutrition and time,” she said. “We built up his strength by throwing his fish one at a time at each end of his pool, so that he had to exercise and stretch his neck to keep his healing scar tissue from becoming restricted.

“In order for him to feed in the wild he needs to be able to extend his neck.”

Sir David was the third seal found with a frisbee stuck around its neck on the coast of East Anglia in the last two years.

Mrs Frisbee was rescued in 2017 and released the following year, and a second, called Pinkafo, was rescued last December and released in May.

No matter how many seals we release, every one is just as special. There is nothing better than watching a rehabilitated animal return back to the wild where they belong Alison Charles, RSPCA

“Sir David’s road to recovery has actually been faster than the previous two frisbee seals we have cared for, but this has been because his injury was not as deep and infected as theirs,” said Ms Charles.

“But he was weaker and more emaciated than they had been, and so we faced new challenges with getting him back to full strength.

“It’s been just wonderful to watch him return back to the sea today.

“No matter how many seals we release, every one is just as special. There is nothing better than watching a rehabilitated animal return back to the wild where they belong.”

To donate towards the cost of Sir David’s recovery, and of other seals at the centre, see www.justgiving.com/campaign/eastwinchseals

PA Media

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