Seal loses an eye after being caught in fishing gear

Helena before her operation to remove her left eye.
Helena before her operation to remove her left eye.

A seal has been given a second chance thanks to her rescuers.

The seal, named Helena, had been caught in some ‘ghost’ fishing gear, suffering multiple wounds, at the end of July.

After being found in a dire situation at St Mary’s Island, she was taken to Blue Reef Tynemouth’s Marine Rescue Centre for treatment.

But the following month rescuers noticed a problem with her left eye caused by the fishing hooks which she got tangled in.

Helena underwent an operation to remove her eye at a local vet and is now back recovering at Blue Reef’s rescue centre.

The team are confident Helena will do well once she is released back into the wild.

Terry Mckonne, head of seal rescue, said: “Helena should have no issues due to her eye, once she is back in the wild.

“Seals have very sensitive whiskers which they use to detect fish, so are quite adept at hunting without good vision.”

Helena still has some treatment to go and the team hope to release her back into the wild in the coming weeks.

Helena was lucky that she was found as staff say with her injuries it is unlikely that she would have survived if she was left in the wild.

The injuries caused by discarded fishing gear highlight the dangers of marine debris, especially fishing gear.

During her recovery, visitors can see Helena and her progress when visiting Blue Reef Aquarium. Staff are also giving advice on what can be done to help our wild seal populations.