Rescued seal returns to wild after Sydney storm

By AG Staff Writer 29 June 2016
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A young fur seal nicknamed ‘Elvis’ has been released back into the wild after being washed ashore by Sydney’s recent wild storms.

AN 18-MONTH-OLD long-nosed fur seal has been released back into the wild outside Sydney heads, less then two weeks after being rescued when much of the NSW east coast was hit by wild storms last month.

The young seal was taken to Taronga Wildlife Hospital on 17 June after he was found exhausted and malnourished on South Curl Curl Beach in Sydney’s north. He soon gained his nickname, ‘Elvis’, for the way he shuffled on the soft matting at the wildlife hospital.

Elvis rescued fur seal

Image courtesy Taronga Zoo

Elvis’s release was a joint operation by Taronga vets, marine mammal rescue organisation 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 Elvis’s speedy recovery was thanks to treatment with antibiotics and fluids and a healthy diet of fresh fish.

“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,” Larry said.

Elvis rescued fur seal

Image courtesy Taronga Zoo

Shona Lorigan, the Vice President of ORRCA, said Elvis was part of a sudden spike of young seals running into trouble in and around Sydney. She said 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 explained that 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 added.

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) asks anyone who comes across a seal that has come ashore to give them 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 (02) 9415 3333.