Belfast Telegraph

Portaferry's Exploris to the rescue after Ophelia leaves seals stranded

By Mark Edwards

Storm Ophelia has had a "devastating impact" on seal populations around our coastlines, according to a Northern Ireland seal sanctuary.

The extreme weather, which caused schools to be closed and left thousands of people without power, hit the seal populations of the east coast hard, in particular the Ards Peninsula in Co Down.

Ann Moreland, general manager at Exploris Aquarium and Seal Sanctuary in Portaferry, said: "This was caused by the extreme winds on an already very high tide which affected the grey seal colonies that are currently in mid-pupping season.

"Grey seals retain their white fur coat for three to four weeks after birth, unless they are fully weaned by their mother.

"During this period they spend the vast majority of their time on shore while their mum returns to the sea to fish, returning only to feed the pup.

"During Storm Ophelia, multiple seals were separated from their mums, while others suffered injuries to flippers, torsos and heads."

Staff at the sanctuary rescued a number of seals in distress during the storm. One two-week old pup rescued from Portavogie was named after the storm and is now recovering well.

Another, christened Galileo, arrived from Kearney Village near Portaferry on October 18 with a rear flipper injury.

A third called Lord Kelvin arrived from Ballywalter on the same day after being stranded on a roadside near traffic after being separated from his mother.

Belfast Telegraph

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