Puck is lucky beneficiary of the expertise at Exploris

Puck is lucky beneficiary of the expertise at Exploris

23 October 2013

STAFF at the Exploris aquarium in Portaferry said farewell to one of its rescued seal pups last week.

Despite horrendous weather conditions last Friday, Puck was released at a quiet location on the shores of Strangford Lough to restart his life in the wild.

The common seal — named after a moon of Uranus — was rescued at the beginning of June from Belfast docks and has been nursed back to full health by Exploris staff over the past few months.

Exploris seal rehabilitation officer, Tania Singleton, said Puck arrived when he was only a few days old. She said he was taken to Portaferry after being spotted by dockyard workers lying on some rocks.

“Exploris staff went to check on Puck and as he was malnourished and there was no mother evident, he was brought back to the seal rescue centre,” she explained. “Puck was lucky to be spotted by people who cared enough to do something about it and he proved to be a model pupil, growing and progressing rapidly.”

Tania continued: “Over the past six weeks he has been exercising his muscles in the larger of the seal pools and putting on weight in readiness for his release.

“In the wild when pups are weaned, they have surplus fat to see them through the first few days on their own. We at Exploris do something similar, we only release seals when they reach a target weight as this gives them time for their natural instincts to kick in.”

Before Puck was released he was micro-chipped and a patch of pink paint applied to his coat so he can be recognised in the future, with the microchip ensuring Exploris staff are informed if any of its former residents are reported injured or dead.

With the grey seal pupping season well under way around local shores, Exploris staff that over the next few weeks the public may well see seal pups that appear to be on their own. Staff say in most cases the pups are fine and that the mother seal is not too far away, but the public is urged to take appropriate action if they do suspect a seal pup to be in distress.

Tania added: “The rescue of these seals relies on the vigilance of the public. Very often, Exploris takes calls from concerned individuals who have spotted a seal pup in distress.

“Our advice is very simple. Keep your distance in case mum is around and contact us.

 “Do not approach the pup, or try to move it. Give us a call at Exploris and we will monitor the situation and rescue the seal if necessary.”

Members of the public can find out more about the seal rehabilitation work carried at Exploris and can view the seal ponds by visiting the seal cam and podcasts at www.exploris.org.uk.