Minion the seal dives back into the ocean

After seven months in rehab, Minion, a young male Subantarctic fur seal, returned to the ocean just before sunrise on 2 May 2014.

He arrived at uShaka Sea World on 28 September 2013 in a severely compromised condition, after having been found stranded on the beach at Port Edward, on lower South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal.

Unfortunately, he had sustained injuries to his flipper and lower back, possibly the result of a shark bite, but after a few days in the care of uShaka Rehabilitation staff he started eating well, and it was clear that he had a strong will to survive.

His progress was steady, but slow, and it took seven months before he was fit enough for release.

For the first few months he did little other than lie at the side of his pool, perking up only at feeding times.

As he grew stronger he spent more and more time in the water, and by January 2014 he was spending the better part of the day swimming, grooming and strengthening his back muscles.

Minion was not an affectionate seal, however, and could be quite cantankerous if he did not receive the response he hoped for, from his care givers. His great passion was eating and when the cooler box emptied after a hearty meal, he was vocally unforgiving and would take a while to settle down again.

His bad temper notwithstanding, Minion was dearly loved by the staff, who were in awe of his tenacious spirit and who dedicated hundreds of hours of caring to this little champion, until finally the day arrived when uShaka’s resident veterinarian gave him the all-clear for release.

uShaka Sea World is a long way from Minion’s home, which we imagine would be in the region of Marion and Prince Edward Islands, and he needed to be released as close to his feeding grounds as possible.

A map tracing Minion's movements

In preparation for release he was flown to Bayworld in Port Elizabeth, where he was fitted with a Telonics satellite tag before heading out to sea in a rubber duck.

Minion was released 15 nautical miles from Cape Recife, and about 12 nautical miles from the closest shore.

Once the door of his crate opened he went into the sea without hesitation. He initially seemed to head towards land but then curved south towards the continental shelf, which is exactly what we hoped he would do.

We will receive daily reports and keep track of Minion’s movements over the next year. This data and the data transmitted by other seals (including Selso, the elephant seal) that were fitted with satellite tags, is being monitored and managed by Oceans and Coasts.

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