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Seal 'pup' surfaces in New Taipei after magnitude 6.5 quake

The seal spent night on dock in New Taipei's Bitou Harbor before swimming away

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Seal seen resting on floating platform in New Taipei City's Bitou Harbor. 

Seal seen resting on floating platform in New Taipei City's Bitou Harbor.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A seal "pup" was spotted in a New Taipei City harbor on Sunday afternoon (Oct. 24), shortly after a powerful earthquake struck northeast Taiwan.

At 1:11 p.m. on Sunday, a magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck 22.7 kilometers south of Yilan County Hall, with a focal depth of 66.8 km, and was followed one minute later by a magnitude 5.4 temblor that was centered 16.6 km south-southwest of Yilan County Hall with a focal depth of 67.3 km.

A little over an hour later at 2:33 p.m., the Facebook group Ocean Dive Club reported sighting a seal pup swimming back and forth in New Taipei City's Bitou Harbor.

Seal 'pup' surfaces in New Taipei after magnitude 6.5 quake
Seal swimming and resting on the dock. (Facebook, Ocean Love Dive Club images)

Over 30 tourists who spotted the creature originally mistook it for a puppy or an otter. However, when it flopped onto a dock in the harbor to rest, others said it appeared to be species of seal.

After being notified of the appearance of the animal, the New Taipei City Government Animal Protection and Health Inspection Office (AHIQO) dispatched personnel, who confirmed it to be an earless seal pup. Earless seals generally inhabit oceans in polar, subpolar, and temperate climates and are not endemic to Taiwan.

Seal 'pup' surfaces in New Taipei after magnitude 6.5 quake
Divers position net near the seal. (AHIQO photo)

Experts from the agency estimated the seal was about 60 centimeters long and said it was easily startled by people, reported CNA. After the seal spent the night on the platform, a team of six divers was sent at 6 a.m. on Monday (Oct. 25) to use fishing nets and guide the seal away from hazardous areas.

However, when the divers drew near, the seal dove into the water and hurriedly swam out to sea.

The AHIQO said that due to poor visibility on Sunday, experts believed the seal was still nursing. However, after interviewing nearby fishermen who had observed its behavior, they later determined that it was probably already weaned and able to forage for food on its own.

Seal 'pup' surfaces in New Taipei after magnitude 6.5 quake
Official directs divers in placing net to guide seal. (AHIQO photo)

Seal 'pup' surfaces in New Taipei after magnitude 6.5 quake
Official observes seal. (AHIQO photo)


Updated : 2022-01-28 07:29 GMT+08:00

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