Starving seal passed around for selfies returns to the sea after recovery

A seal used by teenagers as a selfie prop has been rescued and released back into the wild after recovering from starvation.

Stanley the seal pup weighed only 8kg and had an infection around its mouth when he was found at Blackhall Rocks in County Durham in July.

He was rescued by British Divers Marine Life Rescue and taken to Tynemouth Seal Hospital after a group of teenagers picked it up for photos.

After four months of treatment, the pup recovered and was ready to return to the North Sea.

Footage taken by Chronicle Live shows rescuers releasing Stanley and another seal Wallace, who was rescued from Northumberland, back into the water of Whitley Bay on Saturday, November 28.

Big crowds are seen watching from a distance while animal carers carry them in a cage to the beachfront.

They open the cage to let the seals get out and head towards the water, and the pair take some time to actually dip their flippers into the sea.

It was a touching moment for some of the nurses who had been taking care of Stanley.

Sussanah Lovick-Earle, displays supervisor at Tynemouth Aquarium, said: "I was a bit unsure they wanted to go back into the cold North Sea.

"They really did need a bit of encouragement – but they got there in the end.

"Everyone does get a bit attached to the seals, especially when they come in the hospital so small.

"So when they do leave us it is emotional – some of the volunteers cry!"

Both Stanley and Wallace have been fed well over the summer, and were around 25-30kg when they were released back into the sea.

Sussanah added that seals don't need to be quite so heavy to survive. However, the extra weight will help them as they get used again to the wild.

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