Australia storms: Sydney’s wildlife hospital releases young seal into the wild
Young seal, Elvis, who was rescued from Sydney’s wild storms Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo

A wildlife hospital in Sydney has returned a young seal to its natural habitat after it was rescued from severe storms. The long-nosed fur seal was released outside the Sydney peninsulas in a combined operation by Taronga veterinarians, Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (Orrca) and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).

Nicknamed Elvis, the male seal was kept at Taronga Wildlife Hospital for almost two weeks for treatment. He was found exhausted and malnourished on South Curl Curl Beach by the rescue team following deadly deadly storms that hit Australia earlier this month. Three people were killed, while more than 100 people were evacuated via helicopters and boats by emergency services.

"He was initially a bit hesitant to get in the water, but eventually he dived in and started swimming strongly," senior veterinarian at Taronga, Larry Vogelnest said after the seal's release.

"Elvis was one of the lucky ones. He was pretty feisty when he first arrived, a good indicator that he'd be suitable for short-term care and release," Vogelnest said and added that for his fast recovery, the hospital kept the 18-month-old on antibiotics and fluids and fresh fish was later included in his diet.

According to the senior veterinarian, Elvis could live in the waters around Sydney in the short-term and may move south in October. "He looked fantastic and alert in the water, so we can only hope he grows up to be a big, healthy seal," Vogelnest said.

Shona Lorigan, vice president of Orrca, mentioned that Elvis was one of the 62 seals treated this year, compared to 26 from the same period in 2015. She said that the number of affected seals have increased from last year because of the storm.

"Our belief is that this year's large numbers are the result of a very successful pupping season in 2014-2015, combined with the huge storms earlier this month that really smashed the little seals around," Lorigan added.