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01 April 2004 1405 BST
Graphic: A-Z of Norfolk Science, S: Satellite
Picture: seal with a satellite system
A seal with a satellite tracking system on his back
Satellite technology is being used to track six seals which have been released into the wild off the Norfolk coast.

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RSPCA

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Six orphaned seals reared in captivity have been released back into the wild with satellite technology to track how well they adapt to life at sea.

The RSPCA said four seals were tagged and released back into the Wash, off the Norfolk-Lincolnshire Coast, in March.

The seals have transmitters glued to their fur which will help record where they are, how long they are underwater and how deep they dive.

It means that the RSPCA can keep an eye on them to make sure they are coping in the wild.

The four males and two females were found stranded along the east coast when they were just two or three months old.

They had become separated from their mothers and were suffering from malnutrition.

The seals were taken to the East Winch Wildlife Centre in Norfolk where staff fed them until they were healthy again.

Staff gave them the names of Nemo, Hercules, Shrek, Morocco, Snoopy and Skippy.

The satellites were glued to their backs but will come off when the seals begin to moult in August.

The RSPCA wants to learn more about the impact of seals being reared in captivity. For example, they will find out if the seals know how to dive for food, or if they need to be taught these skills.

Recommended reading
By Sheila McKeown, a librarian at the Millennium Library in Norwich.

Seal, by Steve Parker. Hodder Wayland 2003, ISBN 0750243821.

Seal: Wild Britain, by Louise Spilsbury. Heinemann 2003, ISBN 043103933x.

You can get hold of these books through your local library.


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