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Stricken seal nursed back to health

todayJuly 13, 2021 1

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A seal first spotted off the Norfolk coast more than two years ago with a plastic disc stuck around her neck has been nursed back to health and released back into the wild after she was rescued in the spring.

The mammal, nicknamed Mrs Vicar by volunteer rescuers due to the white disc around her neck, was caught at Horsey Beach and freed from the plastic at the RSPCA’s East Winch Wildlife Centre near King’s Lynn in April.

Discs can become caught around the marine animals’ necks, cutting into them as the animals grow bigger.

The 2.5cm-wide rigid plastic ring, thought to be a component used in large scale pipework, had caused Mrs Vicar a 7cm-deep wound which became infected.

An RSPCA spokesman said it was the worst injury of its type that the charity had seen.

Mrs Vicar was given salty baths to help the wound to heal (Joe Giddens/PA)
Mrs Vicar was given salty baths to help the wound to heal (Joe Giddens/PA)

Mrs Vicar was given salty baths to help the wound to heal and after three months at the centre she was strong enough to return to the wild.

She was released into the River Nene at Sutton Bridge in Lincolnshire on Tuesday, so she can make her way back to the North Sea.

The adult grey seal was finally captured at Horsey Beach in Norfolk on Easter Sunday after more than two years in the wild with the ring stuck around her neck.

Volunteer rescuers from Friends of Horsey Seals caught her and a vet removed the plastic at an RSPCA centre.

Alison Charles, a manager at RSPCA East Winch, previously said: “When I first saw how severe Mrs Vicar’s wounds were I was really worried she wouldn’t be able to make it.

“It was just so severe and infected and you could smell the infected flesh, it was just awful.

“When the ring was removed it then meant that her body released a huge swell of dangerous toxins, which she then had to fight off.

The seal was nurtured back to health by the RSPCA (Joe Giddens/PA)
The seal was nurtured back to health by the RSPCA (Joe Giddens/PA)

“So for the first few days she didn’t really move or show any signs of improvement – and although this is something we do see with necklace injured seals, it was still very worrying that she wasn’t going to pull through.

“However each day there was a small sign of improvement and she started eating and her salt baths began to work on the infected wound.”

Several weeks into her recovery Mrs Vicar was moved to an outside pool where staff built up her strength further by getting her to swim from one end to the other for fish.

At least three seals have had similar discs caught around their necks in recent years.

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todayJuly 13, 2021 3