SATELLITE SEALS - 29th July 1999

A grey seal which was released into the sea with satellite tracking equipment worth 5,000 pounds strapped to it's back has gone missing, it's monitors said.

Nine month old Bran was released into the Irish Sea at Dublin at the end of June by the Irish Seal Sanctuary.

But after two weeks the seal's tag stopped transmitting signals, which had been relayed back to Dublin by satellite.

Sanctuary director Terry Flanagan said he did not beleive the animal had died, as it appeared healthy when recently recorded diving up to 400 feet and staying underwater for 16 minutes at a time. He said:"We actually believe the tag fell off. We did get some results from him, but it was over 14 days instead of the planned 250."

The seal was last tracked to the west of the Scottish island of Colonsay on July 11. Flanagan said the seal had been tagged in a bid to find out more about the life of the grey seal, an elusive animal. Bran had been monitored from Dublin down to southeast Ireland, then back north to Belfast before crossing the Irish Sea toward Colonsay.

A study released this month of satellite tagged grey seals by French marine biologists has shown the species to be dogged travellers, with seals from Brittany in the habit of swimming as far as the North Sea to visit other colonies.

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