By Becky Hammill
X-Men leader Professor X and Guardians of the Galaxy’s Starlord were at Strandhill’s Culleenamore Beach last Saturday, 23 April.
They weren’t there to battle supervillains, but to return to their natural habitat. Starlord and Professor X – two baby grey seals – were rescued by locals and nursed back to health by Seal Rescue Ireland. On Saturday they were released back into the wild on the Sligo beach in front of a small group of onlookers.
The two seals were found on the West coast, severely emaciated and with respiratory infections back in November 2015 and have been recovering at the Wexford based sanctuary since, looked after by a dedicated team of volunteers to ensure that they have the best chance of survival back in their natural habitat.
It was there they were also given their superhero monickers by the Seal Rescue Ireland staff.
“It was estimated that they were around eight weeks of age [when found] and were only weighing in at 14-15kg, which is incredibly underweight for a grey seal pup which should be 45-50kg at only three weeks old,” Amy Carter, Seal Rescue Ireland volunteer co-ordinator, told the Sligo Weekender.
The pups are now 6 and a half months old, and with Starlord now at 50kg, and Professor X weighing 61kg, the pups were ready to go back into the ocean.
One of three sites around the globe where grey seals are found, the Eastern Atlantic population includes those found around the coast of Ireland and Britain and is estimated to contain around 125,000 grey seals.
Amy continued: “We try to always release seals back into the wild in pairs, so that they’ve got each other to swim out with and follow.
“We had a great set of volunteers helping with the release, led by Mel Robinson. We’re the only place in Ireland that rehabilitates and releases seals, so we were really excited to get them back where they belong.”