Seal pups survive epic 350-mile journey
Researchers didn't think the three seal pups could survive after they were swept out to sea by turbulent storms.
Mon, Jan 24, 2011 at 10:37 PM
Three tiny grey seal pups from the Farne Islands in the United Kingdom had the adventure of a lifetime before they even hit their 1-month birthday, according to a report by Wildlife Extra News.
Researchers tracking the Farne Island seal population feared the three pups were dead after they were swept out to sea by turbulent waters wrought by December's rough easterly winds. That is, until they were discovered a short time later — exhausted and hundreds of miles away on a Dutch beach.
The seals' epic journey, which spanned an incredible 350 miles between the Farne Islands and the Netherlands, would have been harrowing even for an adult seal. Yet these pups, still too young to be weaned, somehow survived the journey.
"This is a remarkable tale of determination and survival in the turbulent waters of the North Sea. For three young grey seal pups to make it through such an ordeal is amazing," said David Steel, National Trust head warden for the Farne Islands.
Shortly after being discovered by the public, the three pups (who have been nicknamed "the Farne Island three") were taken to a seal rescue center in the Netherlands. Once they recover their strength and put on more weight, rescuers hope to return them to the Farne Islands.
Home to one of the largest grey seal colonies in England, the Farne Islands is the birthplace of more than 1,300 seal pups each year, but only about 55 percent of them survive their first winter. Although grey seal pups are born to swim, they don't normally leave the breeding colony until they have weaned and molted their white coats.
Research has been conducted on the Farne Island population of grey seals since the 1950s, which makes it the longest running study of grey seals in the world. In fact, seal tagging was pioneered on the Farne Islands, and nearly every individual in the population can be accounted for.
Needless to say, researchers will be keeping a particularly close eye on these three feisty little adventurers once they return home.