A young fur seal has been released back into the wild, less than two weeks after being rescued from Sydney’s wild storms.
Nicknamed ‘Elvis’ due to his tendency to shuffle on the soft matting at Taronga Wildlife Hospital, the Long-nosed Fur Seal was released outside Sydney Headlands in a joint operation by Taronga veterinarians, ORRCA and the RSPCA.
“He was initially a bit hesitant to get in the water, but eventually he dived in and started swimming strongly,” said Taronga’s Senior Veterinarian, Larry Vogelnest.
Larry said it was a terrific outcome for Elvis, who was brought to Taronga Wildlife Hospital on 17 June after being found exhausted and malnourished on South Curl Curl Beach following the storms that battered Sydney.
The 18-month-old seal was given antibiotics and fluids and fed a diet of fresh fish, leading to a speedy recovery.
“He’s one of the lucky ones. He was pretty feisty when he first arrived at the hospital, which was a good indicator that he’d be a suitable candidate for short term care and release,” said Larry.
Vice President of ORRCA, Shona Lorigan said Elvis was part of a sudden spike of young seals running into trouble in and around Sydney. ORRCA volunteers have already responded to 62 seal incidents, compared with 26 from the same period last year.
“Our belief is that this year’s large numbers are the result of a very successful pupping season in 2014-2015, combined with the huge storms earlier this month that really smashed the little seals around,” said Shona.
Larry said Elvis may choose to stay in the waters around Sydney in the short-term, before eventually heading south in October.
“He looked fantastic and alert in the water, so we can only hope he grows up to be a big, healthy seal,” he said.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) asks that anyone who comes across a seal that has come ashore give them the space to rest and recover. Intervention is considered a last resort and, in most cases, the seals will depart of their own accord.
People can report injured seals to NPWS by calling 13000 PARKS (13000 72757) or ORRCA on 9415 3333.