Seal saved by firefighters swims to freedom

Rob Donnelly rescues Bob the seal from Great Ouse mud flats Firefighter Rob Donnelly rescued Bob from mud flats in the River Great Ouse

An orphaned seal pup saved from death by a Norfolk firefighter has returned to the wild after being nursed back to health by RSPCA staff in East Winch.

Bob, named after the fireman that rescued him, was found trapped on river mud flats in King's Lynn in June.

The common seal pup was released back in to The Wash on Wednesday.

Firefighter Rob Donnelly, who made the rescue, said: "It's fantastic to see Bob made a good recovery, we weren't sure how long he would last."

The seal pup got separated from his mother because of high tides and a strong current.

'Strong and healthy'

Mr Donnelly, from King's Lynn's Red Watch, said: "This was not an easy rescue. Working on mud is never easy, it's like walking on stodgy oil.

"He wasn't in a good way at all when we got to him - he looked like he was asleep. I put a towel over him and brought him to the bank."

Common seal facts:

Bob released into The Wash
  • Common seals like Bob (pictured) are the most widespread of the pinniped family, with the UK boasting five per cent of the world's population
  • Mostly solitary animals, small groups do form when they haul out onto rocky shores and beaches to bask, mate and moult
  • Common seals do not chew their food; it is torn into chunks or even swallowed whole

Source: BBC Nature

Bob, thought by experts to only be a week old when he was rescued, needed to be fed a diet of fish soup through a tube every three hours by staff at the East Winch Wildlife Centre to aid his recovery.

Alison Charles, RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre manager, said: "He took a lot of rehab as he was a small, abandoned pup - but now he's strong, fit and healthy and ready to go back.

"Our staff were called out to rescue him but they took one look at the mud and the state of the river and said, 'not for us'.

"The fire service came to rescue him for us - he had a very exciting beginning to being in the centre."

Weighing a healthy 35kg, Bob was released back into the wild with two other seals on Wednesday where experts believe he will join the other seals on sandbanks in the middle of The Wash.

Mr Donnelly said: "To hear that Bob is now well enough to return to the sea is great news and I wish him well."

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