Four rescued New Zealand Fur Seal pups that spent several months recovering at Sea World after stranding on Gold Coast beaches have been released to Montague Island Nature Reserve off Narooma.
To minimise travel time, the Royal Australian Air Force combined routine flying operations to assist with the release efforts and flew the seals along with the specialised veterinary team from the Gold Coast to Moruya in a C-27J Spartan before they were transported to Montague Island by New South Wales National Parks & Wildlife Services vessel ‘Shearwater’ and released last Thursday.
In consultation with the NPWS, Montague Island was determined as the best release location site for the young seals as it has thriving seal colony and it is hoped they will assimilate into the population.
Sea World believes these younger seals would have just been weaned from their mothers and their inexperience coupled with extreme weather conditions is what has resulted in them being found that far north. Where exactly they would have started their journey from remains a mystery. .
Sea World director of marine sciences, Trevor Long said the seals spent 16 weeks rehabilitating at Sea World and the release was a rewarding outcome for the team.
“Throughout the rescue and rehabilitation operation, the welfare and well-being of the seals was the team's highest priority and we are incredibly proud to have been able to reach a stage where we could release them to Montague Island,” he said
“The rehabilitation efforts consisted of an antibiotics, fluids and a nutritional program to get their weight up as they were all severely underweight when they first arrived. The team has done an excellent job to ensure the seals were healthy and in the best condition for their release.
“Before the release we placed tracking devices on two of the seals to allow us to monitor their movements and identify how well they assimilate to the colony which will be crucial to assess the viability of these rehabilitation programs for future events.
“We would like to thank all parties involved for their assistance which has lead to a successful release and in particular the RAAF for their ongoing support to the rescue and rehabilitation efforts of marine life and NPWS for providing sea transport and accommodation for the four Sea World staff at the Montague Island Lightstation.”
Sea World has a long history of working with and rescuing marine animals with the highly trained marine sciences team on call 24 hours every day, 365 days per year should a marine animal need rescuing.
For more information about the Sea World Research & Rescue Foundation please visit http://seaworld.com.au/research-and-rescue or call 13 33 86