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Home   Canterbury   News   Article

Seal pup nursed back to health and released into wild at Oare creek near Faversham after being found stranded on Whitstable beach

23 January 2014
by Bess Browning

A stranded baby seal has been nursed back to health - and released into the wild in Faversham.

The seven-month-old needed immediate care after being found underweight and ill in December after spending two days alone on the beach in Whitstable.

It is unknown how the female seal ended up in Whitstable, but fishermen believe it might have been swept off course by strong tides.

The seal pup is returned to the sea at Oare

The seal pup is returned to the sea at Oare

In a bid to save the lonely pup, a wildlife inspector contacted a seal sanctuary at Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre, in Sussex, for help.

The seal was taken in and staff in the centre believed the pup was debilitated by lungworm - a nasty parasite that can also affect dogs.

But the seal has made a full recovery after spending the last few weeks in the centre being rehabilitated and fed until it was back to its normal weight.

Richard Thompson arrives with the seal in his van

Richard Thompson arrives with the seal in his van

A helping hand from Mark Hampton, Richard Thompson and Julian Walpole at the slipway

A helping hand from Mark Hampton, Richard Thompson and Julian Walpole at the slipway

Just moments to go before the seal is released into the wild

Just moments to go before the seal is released into the wild

When it was time for it to be released back into the wild, Faversham fisherman Julian Walpole and Mark Hampton helped wildlife manager Richard Thompson release the seal into Oare creek.

Mr Thompson said: "We take about 20 to 30 seals a year in the sanctuary so this is quite a common activity for us and it's great to see the seal back to its healthy state.

"We're not really sure how the seal got to Whitstable. It was very underweight when it came in and it looks as if it was struggling to find something to eat."

Scroll down for video

The cage is opened at the water's edge in Oare

The cage is opened at the water's edge in Oare

The seal pup takes a tentative look around before entering the water

The seal pup takes a tentative look around before entering the water

Splashdown! The seal pup makes it to the water’s edge

Splashdown! The seal pup makes it to the water’s edge

He added: "We think the recent storms may mean it got lost and ended up on Whitstable beach.

"We tag all of our seals now and now it has a tag on, so we can track it. If it's found again, it can easily come back to us. We tag all of our seals that we release."

Fisherman Mr Walpole said: "We had excessive tides last month so if it was underweight, perhaps it was exhausted by the strong currents."

Video: Sanctuary staff release seal into wild at Oare

The fishermen work for Bluey Walpole, a well-known fishmonger in Oare, just outside Faversham.

Bluey and his men often donate excess fish to the sanctuary for the seals and Richard took two boxes of herrings back with him to the centre.

The fishermen often see the seals on the sandbank in Oare Creek and have recently spotted a colony of up to 60.

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