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Seal avoids 'slow and painful death' by air vent filter

Seal avoids 'slow and painful death' by air vent filter

  • 3 May 2018
Image copyright Sea Life
Image caption The seal would have died a "slow and painful death" as it struggled to eat and breathe

A young seal is having to be taught to swim upright, after it became used to swimming on its back because of a plastic ring stuck around its neck.

It was spotted off the Norfolk coast with a deep wound caused by part of an air vent filter cutting into his flesh.

After treatment, staff at Sea Life Hunstanton named him Relashio, after a Harry Potter spell.

It is now being taught to mimic other seals and swim in an upright position so it can be released.

Image copyright Sea Life
Image caption The seal would only rest and swim on its back when it arrived

The juvenile grey seal was spotted struggling at Burnham Overy Staithe beach on the north Norfolk coast with a "waste air vent... dangerously trapped around his neck" which would have led to "a slow and painful death" had he not been treated.

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Relashio was taken to the Coastal Veterinary Group, where surgeon Christopher Tansley said staff had "never seen anything as severe as this in a seal".

"The circular plastic piece of air filter had obviously been around the poor animal's neck for some time as it had cut deep into the fat as he grew in size," he said.

Image copyright Sea Life
Image caption The plastic ring was tightening as the seal grew, causing a deep neck wound

During his recovery at Sea Life Hunstanton, staff noticed the seal "had a habit of swimming and resting on his back".

"We believe he may have grown to get used to this position as it would have helped to ease the pressure on his wound," said aquarist Nicky Nelson.

After several weeks of recuperation and swimming lessons, Relashio is "slowly learning to swim upright as he mimics behaviour of other seals in the sanctuary's convalescent pool and is expected to make a full recovery", she added.

Image copyright Sea Life
Image caption Relashio has lessons to help him learn how to swim like a proper seal