Two grey seal pups were released into the wild earlier this week after being treated at the Korkeasaari wildlife hospital in Helsinki. The seals were relocated to the Kallbådan seal sanctuary off Porkkalaniemi, a peninsula in Kirkkonummi, southern Finland. The animal hospital has released seals in this area in the past.
The wildlife hospital said in a statement that one of the seals was brought in for treatment from Pargas (Parainen in Finnish) in the southwest at the end of March just before government sealed off the Uusimaa region to slow the spread of novel coronavirus. The other was found in the Souka forest in Espoo in early April.
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Both animals were said to be emaciated and in poor condition. The Pargas seal pup weighed just 9.5 kilograms, however during care their weight rose to more than 25 kilograms and they learned to hunt fish themselves.
"They like being together and were nervous around people, which will be important for them in the future," zookeeper Laura Pulli said in a statement.
The animals were transported to the release site on board a Finnish sea rescue association vessel. The first seal released into the water hesitated in the cold waves, however the other immediately took to the water. Several adult grey seals could be seen basking on the islets.
Another grey seal pup is still receiving treatment at the hospital; it was found near Hovinsaari in Kotka, southeast Finland.
Although this summer’s low ice formation made birthing difficult for seals, the animal hospital said that it did not receive more than the usual number of pups needing treatment.
Watch a YouTube video (in Finnish) of the seal pups as they travel to their new home.