'How special is that' - Moment six rescue seals find their freedom
Six seals have been released back into the wild at Combe Martin in North Devon after being cared for by the RSPCA.
The seals - all males and named Mohair, Suede, Donegal, Ramie, Rattan and Ric-Rac - were brought into the animal charity’s specialist wildlife rehabilitation centre in Somerset with a variety of problems.
They were underweight and had respiratory infections, wounds, and eye ulcers.
A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: "After spending time being cared for by the team at RSPCA West Hatch Wildlife Centre, they were fit to be released back into the wild where they belong.
"All were males and release weights ranged from 38.9kg to 54.6kg."
Cafe owner Jill Cockram was among those who gathered on the beach to watch the seals being given their freedom.
She said: "My friend and I had stopped for a coffee and got in the car to drive back home to Ilfracombe. As we were going past the top of the beach we saw the RSPCA van from Taunton and stopped as we realised what was about to happen.
"It was so special seeing them released. I have lived here for 15 years and am part of the Combe Martin Kayak Club so I am there a lot and I have never seen something like that before.
"It was a special moment on a beautiful day in North Devon."
The RSPCA warns people not to assume seals on beaches are in difficulties. The charity said: "If you see a seal that looks healthy on the beach, please leave it alone. People may think they are helping, but these are wild animals and need to be left well alone.
"It’s normal for seals to sit on a beach for long periods of time and in hotter weather many could be resting or sunbathing. At this time of year, young common seal pups that have just been weaned are now finding food by themselves so they are often seen on the beaches as they need time to rest.
"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."
There is more advice about what to do on the RSPCA website. If it is an emergency, please ring the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 or a local wildlife rescue organisation or the police.