Rescued young seal finds new home at Sea Life Mooloolaba
A YOUNG fur seal has joined the underwater family at Sea Life Mooloolaba after being rescued from Nambucca, near Coffs Harbour in NSW.
One-year-old Moana - Maori for 'ocean" - was found stranded on a beach at Coffs in September, weighing only 7kg and unable to hunt because of a serious eye injury.
The eye injury, which left Moana with limited vision and a high sensitivity to UV light, was believed to have been caused by a dog attack.
Initially cared for by Dolphin Marine Magic on the Coffs Coast, Moana was then sent to Sea Life for further care and rehabilitation.
Moana's injury means she will never have proper vision and can no longer survive in the wild, meaning Sea Life will will live permanently at Sea Life, along with the eight other seals already living there.
IN PICTURES: Moana frolicks at Sea Life Mooloolaba
Sea Life Mooloolaba mammal manager Jess Heading said Moana's resilience and playful nature had helped her settle in well at the attraction, where she would eventually participate in daily seal presentations for visitors.
"Although Moana is the smallest seal among our family of fur seals and sea lions here at Sea Life Mooloolaba, she has a big voice and can often be heard vocalising at the larger seals," Ms Heading said.
"She is not shy and has been interacting well with the other seals.
"We are even seeing the start of a beautiful friendship between Moana and Nelson, our young Sub Antarctic fur seal who is also visually impaired.
"They have been spending a lot of time together playing and getting to know one another, and visitors might even see them touching noses or chasing each other around the pool."
Ms Heading said Moana had been welcomed by the other seals and she was often seen playing with them and even got away with having the odd sleep on a rock usually reserved for the facility's biggest fur seal, the 200kg Groucho.
And while Moana may have been malnourished when she arrived at Sea Life, Ms Heading said she was making up for lost time.
Moana ate 2kg of fish every day, with squid and octopus proving her favourite foods. Once fully grown she was expected to weigh between 30kg and 50kg. She currently weighed about 12kg.