Lou-Seal released back into the sea
Aquarium staff in Bermuda and the United States are celebrating the successful release into the wild of Lou-Seal, the first grey seal found stranded on the island.
After six weeks of care at the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, the healthy female was released yesterday at Blue Shutters Beach in Charlestown, Rhode Island, before a crowd of onlookers.
Ian Walker, the curator at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo, said: “Her will to live was strong — as well as her appetite.”
Lou-Seal was “emaciated” on her chance arrival on the rocks at Tobacco Bay in St George's on March 19.
Dr Walker said: “She was incredibly lucky to get here; if she had missed the island, that would have been the end of her.”
Grey seals live in the North Atlantic, and the animal's journey from the US East Coast spanned hundreds of hazardous miles of open ocean.
Starving and bearing minor injuries, Lou-Seal was swiftly rescued after she was spotted.
Seals are a rarity in Bermuda and tend to arrive in “a pretty awful condition”, Dr Walker said.
“But when we fed her fish, she gobbled it down. That was a great sign.”
The community raised funds, including from Queen's Club and a private donor, for the animal's care.
She was flown to Mystic Aquarium on April 10, where Gosling's Limited supported her rehabilitation and release.
Mystic held a competition, with the winner helping to open Lou-Seal's crate at Blue Shutters Beach.
Denese Koza, who won, has travelled to Bermuda twice a year for the last decade and was on the island when Lou-Seal was found at the East End.
Ms Koza said: “We spend our summers a quarter of a mile from where she was released.”
Dr Walker said the collaboration for the animal's care had been “heart-warming”.
“It was incredible to see that animal go back into the water looking the way a grey seal should.”
Lou-Seal was a gaunt 190lb on arrival but had fattened up to more than 360lb by the time of her release.
Dr Walker added: “Hopefully she does not pick up beach friends and come back.”