Last Sunday, I went to a cove in Laguna Beach to watch the release of the seal pups. The pups where rescued in November and December by a team of volunteers at the Marine Mammal Center. Most of the seals weighed less than 25 pounds when they were found. They were under-nourished, alone, and had beached themselves to die. Local residents teamed together and sponsored the recovery project. In captivity, the seals gained over 50 pounds. Now, it was time to return them to the wild.
The volunteers unloaded 4 crates onto the sand, each carrying a recovered seal. As a crowd of residents stood by, the team pointed the crates toward the ocean. They quieted the crowd, and opened the doors.
The first seal popped out its head. It took a sniff of the air and then jumped out of the crate on both fins. It looked toward the ocean, then walked into the crate next to it. Two other seals came out of their crates, but again, instead of running for the water they jumped into the crate with the other two seals. A few minutes later, they all emerged and huddled together on the sand as if they were making a plan. The huddle broke, they all took one long stare at the ocean and in perfect unison waddle down to the shore and thrust themselves into the ocean. The crowd cheered as the seals glided across the surface, shoulder-to-shoulder as they crest over waves heading out to sea. Once destine to die alone, they now thrived swimming together. Such is the power of teamwork.