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Photos: Vancouver Aquarium releases first rehabilitated seal of 2022

So long, Penny!

The 2022 graduate of "fish school" at the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre (MMRC) is swimming around Howe Sound right now.

Penelope (aka Penny), a harbour seal, was released June 17 on a small, rocky beach in Howe Sound. She'd been in the care of the centre since Feb. 13 after she was injured in a boat strike. During her time with the centre she had to recover from life-threatening injuries.

"(Penny) underwent multiple procedures by Dr. Martin Haulena to repair extensive facial injuries. Due to these injuries, the team focused on her ability to catch live prey," according to the centre.

Last week she completed 'fish school' and staff decided she was ready to return to the wild.

"It is always rewarding to release these rescued animals back, especially the ones who were impacted by humans," said centre manager Lindsaye Akhurst in a press release.

The MMRC is one of the largest facilities of its type in the world and deals with upwards of 150 animals each year including harbour seals like Penny, sea lions, sea otters, sea turtles and other large animals.

"If you see a marine mammal that you believe is in distress, stay back," advises the centre. "Keep other people and animals away and call the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604-258-SEAL (7325)."