Seals released back into wild at Snettisham after rehabilitation in Hunstanton

Two seals were released back into the wild this morning by staff from the Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary.

The grey seals darted straight to the water after being released by the centre's animal care team at Snettisham beach at 9.30am.

Snowball and Cliff were found on Norfolk beaches last year and spent the winter rehabilitating at the centre before their release.

Hollie Stephenson, part of the animal care team, said: 'We will miss them because we spent so much time with them and got to know them really well.

'But we don't want to keep them any longer than we need to and it was great to see them go straight out into the water and back into the wild where they belong.'

When Snowball was rescued from Holkham beach on November 28, the grey seal weighed 32kg but was fighting fit in every respect bar an infection in her left eye.

She was the first casualty of the winter grey seal breeding season to arrive at the sanctuary and on her release, Snowball weighed 70kg and has better vision out of her left eye following a course of antibiotics.

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'We decided to call her Snowball because when we found her she was white and fluffy,' Miss Stephenson said.

'They vet was worried that Snowball wouldn't ever be able to see out of her left eye again and she was probably lucky to have got lost and ended up being rescued because she would have lost all sight out of her eye.'

Cliff was found on Winterton Ness on December 7 with cuts and bruises and weighed 25kg but made a quick recovery and weighed 60kg on his release.

Staff at the centre believe the seals were separated from their mothers during a tidal surge in late November which saw flood warnings issued in King's Lynn.

Miss Stephenson continued: 'They both healed quickly and were in and out of hospital and then they really put on weight quickly.'

She added: 'We have one grey seal left that currently weighs 32kg so it just shows you how much these two were hogging all the fish.'

Kirsty Sopp and Sarah Fletcher, who rescued Snowball, helped Miss Stephenson release the seals.

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