EFFORTS to keep the seals and sealions at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary healthy and active have moved underwater.

Sanctuary staff have employed a variety of toys and tactics to keep the residents stimulated, but every strategy soon needs revising to prevent it becoming routine and the animals losing interest.

Now though, the animal care team has hit on a brand new enrichment programme, and is enlisting visitors to help put it into effect.

“We’ve come up with an underwater training routine which we can deliver using our underwater gallery and big viewing windows, and even the penguins enjoy it,” said Animal Care Supervisor Tamara Cooper.

The equipment includes ribbons on sticks, CDs, fish-shaped cloths and a light-wand.

“We use these devices to attract their attention and they perform underwater acrobatics following them,” said Tamara.

“We alternate them to make sure they don’t get too used to one thing, and so far it’s working a treat.”

In the sea lion pool, Noito and Diego have proved the most receptive to the new entertainment, and actually signal which toys they like best by blowing bubbles at them through the glass.

Tamara and her colleagues have discovered that the penguins have a fascination for the shiny CDs.

The different distractions are now being offered to visitors so that they can direct their own underwater ballets and help keep the animals fit and active in the process.