Seals released back into wild at Snettisham

Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary, releasing seals at Snettisham.'A Seal (with one eye) making it's way back inton the sea ANL-150921-084016009
Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary, releasing seals at Snettisham.'A Seal (with one eye) making it's way back inton the sea ANL-150921-084016009

Two seals which have been nursed back to health were released back into the Wash on Saturday.

Artemis, a one-eyed rescue seal, and Hemera were safely allowed back into the wild from Snettisham Beach.

Both seals, weighing 40 and 50 kilos, have been recuperating and cared for at the Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary.

Natalie Emmerson, one of the aquarists at the sanctuary, said: “The release went really well.

“The seals were a little bit unsure at first and stayed in the shallow water but after a few minutes they made their way out into the sea.

“It’s all a little bit daunting for them, especially when they have been cared for by us for such a long time.

“It was sad to see them go because you can become quite attached to them but the aim is always to release them back into the wild.”

Artemis suffered a punctured eye following a clash with another seal at Mundesley, while Hemera recovered from a serious wound to one of her rear flippers where a section of bone was missing from it.

“Normally, the seals wouldn’t be with us that long, but because they had complicated injuries they were with us for six months,” said Miss Emmerson.

“Some seals we can have for up to six week and others we can have with us a lot longer, it all depends on their cirumstances.”

Sea Life Sanctuary boss Nigel Croasdale, who helped nurse the seals back to health, said: “It was a bitter-sweet moment when they headed off into the surf. But that is what the team work to achieve and in spite of serious injuries they suffered we are confident both seals will cope just fine back in their natural environment.”

The team has received 50 emergency calls and has treated a total of 37 seals since March.

That is a record number for the centre and more releases are expected to follow in the next few weeks.

No sooner had Artemis and Hemera taken to the water, the sanctuary received a call about another seal.

“We’ve been getting a couple of calls a week,” said Miss Emmerson. “We’ve got a few more seals almost ready to be released back into the wild and we 
expect most of the ones which we have with us now to be gone by Christmas.”

While seal numbers around the country are declining, the populations in The Wash continue to boom.

The busy sanctuary’s animal care team has calculated it has travelled a total of 1,147 miles on rescue missions since March, the longest single journey being a 141-mile round trip to pick up a pup subsequently 
christened Mint Choc Chip, from Hemsby.