This fall, the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre launched a pilot project to track the movement of rehabilitated seal pups to better understand how they adapt to their natural environment post-rehabilitation. After releasing the seals back into their natural habitat and tracking them for 47 days, we’re excited to report that they’re doing very well.

The seals were outfitted with satellite transmitters, and were released on the Sunshine Coast on Oct. 13, 2012. Within the first 24 hours, staff at the Rescue Centre could see that the seals were diving to depths consistent with foraging behavior. The pups also dispersed from the release location and travelled great distances. One of the seals has travelled over 1,300 km since being released and is approximately 100 km from the release site.

For the first time on Oct. 13, a group of the Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre’s rehabilitated seal pups were released back into the wild with satellite trackers to monitor their movement and behaviours.

This is exciting for staff at the Rescue Centre because it’s the first time they get to see how well the seals do after rehabilitation and how well they adapt to their natural environment after being in human care.

Their activity in the wild means that the weight they gained while at the Rescue Centre provides enough energy for them to survive while learning to forage on their own in the ocean.

Despite the bumpy beginning for these little critters, the efforts of staff, interns and volunteers at the Rescue Centre to rehabilitate rescued seals are clearly paying off – the pups are thriving in the wild.

The satellite tags, which were provided by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, were attached to the top of the seals’ heads, where they will remain for approximately six to nine months, until the seals moult.

If you’d like to see how the seals are doing, you can track their progress here.

Click here to find out how you can help support the work of the Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

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