Northern Ireland

Seals say goodbye in County Down after beach release

Seal pups released
Image caption The seal pups were rescued when they were found in June seriously underweight

After seven weeks of care and close contact, it can be hard to say goodbye.

That is what happened when seal biologist Sue Wilson attempted to release two abandoned seal pups back into the wild.

One took off without a backward glance. But the other, called Coral, was reluctant to leave someone who had fed and cared for her for weeks.

Image caption The seals were taken back to the beach in County Down where they were originally found

The pups were rescued when they were found back in June seriously underweight.

They had been unable to follow their mothers in the sea and had become stranded.

Ms Wilson runs a research project on mother and pup behaviour.

Image caption One pup, Choral, was reluctant to leave after being cared for since June

She took them in and fed them on a special supplement, crushed fish and cream.

She took them back to the beach at Minerstown, County Down, where they had been found, to be released.

Image caption The seals were fed on a special supplement, crushed fish and cream since being rescued

It took around an hour for Coral to leave, finally drawn away by the presence of adult seals.

Ms Wilson has helped more than 20 pups back to the sea over the years.