By NATASHA SMITH
Two seals were flown to the UK to be released back into the wild, after being cared for by staff at Zoomarine in Guia.
AFTER BEING cared for by staff at the Rehabilitation Centre for Marine Species at Zoomarine, in Guia, two seals were flown to the UK last Wednesday to be released back into the wild.
Dara, as she was named by staff, washed up on Barranco beach, in Vila do Bispo, in August 2006, covered in parasites and underweight for her age (see The Resident, September 1, 2006).
She was taken to Zoomarine, where she was cared for and hand fed for the first few days. Zoomarine’s Elio Vincente and Marco Bragança said that after the initial days, human contact was reduced, so she could not develop any affection for staff. She has learned to fear humans so she will not approach them in the wild, which will assist her survival.
Duende, the other seal, went through the same process when he arrived at Zoomarine, after he was spotted in Nazaré, north of Lisbon, in July 2006. He had severe intestinal problems and almost died, but with the care and expertise of the staff, he has made a full recovery.
GB Airways kindly offered to transport Dara and
Duende to Gatwick airport in a pressure and temperature controlled hold compartment.
The seals were met in the UK by staff at the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals) and were due to be kept for four days at a seal sanctuary, to ensure they did not suffer any stress, or develop an illness, during transport.
Zoomarine staff were very grateful to the British authorities for facilitating Dara and Duende’s release and they were not worried about how the seals would cope with the stress of travelling. “They are strong, especially Dara. She is the dominant one.”
Vincente said, “seals can last up to three months out of the water but they can overheat 30 times faster” so water was sprayed on them, while they waited to board their flight.
The animals are due to be taken up to Scotland to be released, where they can follow currents towards the arctic and eventually join other seals.
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