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Seal injured by discarded plastic air filter learns to swim upright again in Norfolk sanctuary

'If he hadn’t been discovered then he would have almost certainly perished a slow and painful death as he continued to grow in size,' says Sea Life aquarist Nicky Nelson

Maya Yagoda
Thursday 03 May 2018 22:26 BST
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Seal injured by discarded plastic air filter learns to swim upright again in Norfolk sea life sanctuary

An injured seal is rehabilitating at Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary in Norfolk after sustaining a life threatening wound caused by a discarded plastic air filter.

The rehabilitation team caring for the animal named it Relashio after the Harry Potter spell that forces a release of anything trapped.

The seal was noticed off the coast of Burham Staithe Overy with the circular component around its neck.

Sanctuary staff had noticed that the seal had taken to swimming and sleeping on its back in order to cope with the pain of its injury. “If he hadn’t been discovered then he would have almost certainly perished a slow and painful death as he continued to grow in size,” Sea Life aquarist Nicky Nelson said.

“The wound would have continued to deepen until it stopped him from eating or breathing.”

The team at the sea life sanctuary have been focused on teaching the animal to swim horizontally once more to increase its chances of survival in the wild. Relashio has been learning to swim upright by mimicking the behaviour of other seals in the sanctuary.

Footage released by the centre shows Relashio swimming, wound healed, in a tank after eight weeks of treatment. Relashio is set to be released back into his natural habitat within four weeks.

Hundreds of marine species are affected by entanglement in nets and other foreign objects posing a sincere danger to global sea life populations. Staff at the Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary are encouraging members of the public to alert any local rescue centres to sightings of injured or entangled seals.

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