Cornwall

Seal pup makes a surprise return to a Cornish sanctuary

A grey seal pup has become the first casualty in 20 years to be released by Cornwall's National Seal Sanctuary - for the second time.

Petunia was originally set free in April 2010 after recovering from netting injuries.

She was then discovered in a weakened condition on the shore at Mawgan Porth, near Newquay, in February 2011.

Staff at the sanctuary in Gweek, near Helston, have nursed Petunia back to health again.

The pup was recognised by the ID tag she was given by the seal hospital on her original visit.

Earlier on 7 April she was released back into the water at Porthtowan on the north Cornwall coast.

Around 50 people visited the beach to see Petunia going back into the water but after heading for the waves, she then turned back and went into her cage.

Rachael Vine, the adoptions co-ordinator at the Seal Sanctuary said: "Petunia is a little bit unsure of what is going on."

She added: "We chose Porthtowan beach because there are known seal colonies in the water nearby."

'Dispose of netting'

Eventually Petunia took to the water swimming back into the wild.

Around 10% of the Sanctuary's rescued pups have suffered injuries from lost or discarded netting.

Seal carer Amy Hudson, said: "If anyone comes across bundles of netting on the beach we'd urge them to try and get it disposed off before the tide carries it out to sea again."

The Sanctuary started in the winter of 1958 when a baby seal, only a few hours old, was washed up on the beach at St Agnes.

Founder Ken Jones who lived with his wife by the beach, picked up the pup and took it back to his small garden.

The Sanctuary moved to Gweek in 1975.

Staff are now hoping Petunia's latest release from the Sanctuary will be her last.

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