Selso, a 22-month-old southern elephant seal, boarded the ship in Durban, South Africa after a period of extensive rehabilitation.
The youngster was originally taken aboard by MSC in June last year when he was found in poor health and stranded on a beach in KwaZulu Natal.
The seal underwent six months of rehabilitation at uShaka Sea World. Marine biology experts observed his progress and decided not to release him until he had reached a healthy weight of 180 kilograms and completed his annual moult.
Having exceeded his milestone, now weighing 200 kilograms, uShaka Sea World approached MSC Cruises to help release him back into his natural environment.
Dubbing itself the ‘Guardians of the Seas’, MSC Cruises agreed to help with the seal’s return.
He was lifted in a crate onto the foredeck of the cruise ship and secured under cover. Selso was released off the coast of Port Elisabeth after enjoying a two-day cruise while being cared for by veterinarian Francois Lampen and two keepers, Colette Bodenstaff and Wayne Sumpton.
“Oceans and life in the oceans are inextricably connected with humans and Selso’s heart-warming story is just a proof of that,” MSC Cruises executives said.
Prior to his release, Selso was fitted him with a satellite tag to enable scientists to monitor his progress and whereabouts for a year.
Do you know of another occasion when a cruise ship has come to nature’s rescue? Let us know by leaving a comment below.