By: Ann Kunz
There were mixed emotions when Ragnar took to the sky this morning
As the weather in Durban this morning was perfect, Ragnar was loaded into a bespoke transport crate and driven from uShaka Sea World to Virginia Airport and loaded onto a Bateleur’s light aircraft. Once again, when The Bateleurs heard that a stranded seal needed to be flown from Durban to Bayworld in preparation for release, they did not hesitate to volunteer their support.
Ragnar will spend the night in PE before being taken, courtesy of SAIAB, into the Agulhas current and released. The Agulhas current will assist the seals in the initial stretch of their journey back to the Antarctic.
Ragnar will not be alone because he will join Sebastian, a crabeater seal of similar age. Sebastian arrived in Port Elizabeth on the same day that Ragnar arrived on the KZN south coast.
SAAMBR veterinarian, Dr Francois Lampen who accompanied Ragnar to PE, will carry out health assessments on both seals later this afternoon. Scientists who are keen to learn more about crabeater seals and specifically vagrant crabeater seals, will take this rare opportunity whilst the seals are under sedation to take scientific samples.
They will both be fitted with satellite tags in order for us to monitor their movements post release.
“We are going to miss our little Viking who has wriggled and wormed his way into our hearts. The longer he spent with us, the more we were charmed by him. Not only is he extremely beautiful, but smart, agile and curious – much like a young puppy. We are however very proud that he has done so well and wish him well on his journey back home” said Lead Behaviourist Hayley Tennant.
We look forward to sharing Ragnar’s journey back to the Antarctic with you.