GALLERY: Back to The Wash, Bob the stranded baby seal released after some TLC at a West Norfolk wildlife centre

A STRANDED seal pub dramatically rescued by fire crews from the banks of the River Great Ouse has been released back into the wild at Sutton Bridge.

The tiny common seal was later named Bob in honour of the firefighter who crawled across the thick black mud and carried him to safety.

Now, after weeks of careful nursing at the RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre, the youngster has more than tripled in weight and is ready to strike out on his own for the first time.

Today (Wednesday) he was released with two other seals in Sutton Bridge and happily headed out towards The Wash after taking a curious look around his new surroundings.

“Bob’s just a baby really and is still quite naive,” said centre manager Alison Charles. “Seals usually reach about 100kg, so at 35kg he’s still got a lot of growing to do.

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“They can live to be 25 to 30, so that’s why it’s really important we get their rehabilitation right - they need to be fit, healthy and able to survive.”

Bob was only a couple of weeks old when he was spotted alone on the mud flats near the Custom House in King’s Lynn with no sign of his mother.

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He made several attempts to re-enter the water, but firefighters and a team from the East Winch centre were called when he finally beached at the foot of a steep wall.

Firefighters Rob Donnelly and Russell Wood were lowered onto the mud as a large crowd gathered to watch.

Mr Donnelly, from Lynn’s Red Watch, said: “He wasn’t in a good way at all when we got to him. He looked like he was asleep and to be honest we weren’t sure how long he would last.

“There were a lot of people on the bank by then and someone then shouted ‘What shall we call him?’ Someone else said it should be named after me, and it stuck.

“It is fantastic to see the other Bob make such a good recovery.”

The trio released today were the first of the common seal pups rescued over the summer to be returned to the wild.

Staff at the centre are still caring for a number of sick common seals are expecting the annual influx of rescued grey seals to begin any day.

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