Selso returns to the ocean off Port Elizabeth

Selso prepares for release back into the Indian Ocean 

Following six months of rehabilitation at uShaka Sea World, a 22-month-old southern elephant seal was released back into the ocean off Port Elizabeth on Saturday, 11 January 2014.

It was an obviously joyful moment for the seal, but a tearful one for mammal staff who had grown fond of their friendly charge.

Named Selso by his caregivers, the seal was rescued – underweight and thousands of kilometres from his sub-Antarctic home – after beaching at Southbroom along the KwaZulu-Natal coast in June 2013.

Over the months Selso was fed and nursed back to health before being deemed robust enough for release. He was transported out to sea in a customised crate aboard the MSC Sinfonia cruise ship that was en route to the Cape.

Wayne Sumpton, assistant curator at uShaka Sea World, stabilises the crate housing Selso as it is lowered into the ocean

Having developed a close bond with Selso while taking care of his health and nutritional needs over the past six months, uShaka staff were very sad to see him go, but happy to know that their dedication had once again paid dividends.

Selso has been fitted with a satellite tag that will allow marine scientists to monitor his movements over the coming year, and provide valuable species data.

Each year between 10 and 20 sub-Antarctic fur seals come to rest on KwaZulu-Natal beaches between June and August, before heading off on their long journey home.

See all the images of the release here.

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