3 January 2014

A quick thinking tourism operator has averted disaster for a little male seal who had become entangled in a piece of plastic commonly used to secure boxes.

Troy Muir of Polperro Dolphin Swims was taking visitors on a morning cruise to Chinaman's Hat on Monday, a popular seal resting place, when he spotted the little seal with the dangerous plastic necklace.

Mr Muir contacted the AGL Marine Response Unit operating out of Melbourne Zoo and within hours a specialist animal care team had been dispatched to the scene on a Fisheries Victoria Boat.

It took the AGL Marine Response Unit team and Fisheries Officers nearly two hours to dart and catch up the seal before bringing him on board the vessel and cutting the plastic to free him from entanglement.

AGL Marine Response Unit Coordinator Mark Keenan said that while the young seal’s entanglement was relatively minor, it would have become more serious over time, choking and cutting into the seal’s neck as he grew.

“We are very relieved for this little guy because his entanglement was caught early, before it could cause significant pain and scarring.

“Some other seals and marine mammals are not so lucky, and what seems like a small entanglement can become fatal over time,” Mark said.

Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Ryan Smith, said that he was pleased to see the new AGL Marine Response Unit successfully working to improve the welfare of entangled seals.

“The recovery of this seal is another great example of how strategic partnerships between the private and public sectors are essential to helping the conservation and welfare of our wildlife,” Mr Smith said.

“The introduction of the AGL Marine Response Unit ensures Victorians always have a number to call and an expert team to respond when our marine mammals find themselves in trouble”.

The seal has been spotted swimming happily around Chinaman’s Hat and resting on the platform.

If you see injured, sick or distressed marine wildlife, contact the AGL Marine Response Unit on 0447 158 676. 

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