Mal Westwood and
Mal Westwood and "Groucho” ready to entertain at Sea Life Sunshine Coast at Mooloolaba. Warren Lynam

Seal of approval as International Friendship Day celebrated

INTERNATIONAL Friendship Day has been celebrated in unique fashion today at Sea Life Sunshine Coast.

Mammal handlers know how special the bond between human and animal can be and encouraged others to appreciate all marine life.

Seal trainer Mal Westwood first met Groucho the resident seal as a pup, stranded on the beach.

He started at the aquarium 26 years ago, originally as a Christmas casual, but creatures like Groucho kept him coming back.

"Groucho was a stranded seal and deemed a public nuisance,” Mr Westwood said.

"He couldn't survive for himself but now eats up to 18kgs per day in peak season.

"We named him after Groucho Marx, he's a very funny guy. You never know what he is going to do.

"Guys like him are friends for life. They're the main reason why I love this job.”

Mr Westwood said the public could help protect seals by only eating sustainable seafood and being wary of disposing of waste properly.

Curator Kate Wilson swims with "toothy” sharks three times a week but wouldn't change it for the world.

This morning she helped feed more than 30 sharks, including Sea Life's recently obtained grey nurse sharks.

"This is the part of the job I love the most; watching grey nurses extend their jaws is unreal,” she said.

"I do get nervous sometimes. There have been a few little moments of concern over the years.

"We just have to be careful, I may have to pull people out of the way.

"They're a massive part of my life and something I've been training for all my life.”



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