Rescued seal Dolly returns to sea three months after she washed up on the beach at Margate
At first she seemed nervous, looking doubtfully at those around her. But then Dolly the seal screwed up her courage, waddled into the sea and swam happily away.
The scene at Fairlight beach near Hastings, East Sussex, was an enchanting conclusion to the story of Dolly, who had been washed up at Margate, Kent, in October weighing under two stone and suffering from an bad eye infection.
Thanks to treatment by the RSPCA she grew to a healthy six stone and has now been released back into the wild.
Dolly was cared for at the RSPCA's Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre in Hastings. Vets at the RSPCA feared for Dolly's health as she was malnourished and weighed less than 12kg. But she has since made a miraculous recovery and is now a healthy 38.6kg.
A spokesman for the RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre said: 'We are delighted after months of care at our centre, we were able to release her back to the wild.
'No matter how many times we release a seal we never get tired of watching them make their break for freedom back to the wild, it's always so lovely to see.'
Professionals from British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) team were alerted to Dolly's struggle on October 2. The young common seal was spotted stuck in the sand there.
'Dolly has been in our care since October after she was brought in to us by the BDMLR, she was underweight and very young', the RSPCA spokesman added.
If you are concerned about a seal, observe from a distance. Please keep other animals, such as dogs, away from the animal, and never return the seal to the water yourself. If you have observed the seal for at least 24 hours and are still concerned about it please contact the RSPCA for advice on 0300 1234 999