Popular seals undergo eye surgery

The seals are a popular attraction at Mooloolaba's Underwater World.
The seals are a popular attraction at Mooloolaba's Underwater World. john mccutcheon

THEY may still be able to turn on a show for fans but the years have taken their toll on two of UnderWater World's older residents.

But when you're as popular as seals Portia and Liette, it seems there's no limit to the health care you receive.

One of the world's leading veterinary ophthalmologists, Dr Carmen Colitz, spent a recent weekend on the Coast to perform ground-breaking surgery on the aquarium's oldest seals.

Liette, aged 23, and Portia, 22, underwent surgery to remove bilateral cataracts which are a common occurrence in mammals and frequently found in seals and sea lions.

Both seals have been part of the UnderWater World family for almost 20 years and are quite healthy, with Liette still doing seal kisses and Portia still involved in the seal show.

UnderWater World general manager, Tim Stonhill, said removal of the cataracts was aimed at increasing the quality of the seals' lives.

While they were the first eye surgeries performed at the facility, Dr Colitz is no stranger to performing surgery on mammals and has completed thousands of optical surgeries.

The founder of Aquatic Animal Eye Care is committed to understanding the ocular diseases that affect marine mammals, penguins and fishes both under human care and in the wild.

The operations on both Portia and Liette each took about four hours and were a complete success.

The seals will recuperate under the watchful care of trainers Julie Lightfoot and Katie Miers over the next three to four weeks.

Dr Colitz also operated on Nelson, the New Zealand Fur Seal who was rescued, rehabilitated and relocated from Adelaide in late 2010.

He had suffered trauma to one of his eyes which had caused loss of sight and the ongoing risk of infection.

The eye was successfully removed and already Nelson is showing positive signs.

“All in all, the operations were very successful,” Mr Stonhill said.

Singer on path to stardom

VOCAL SKILLS: Year 12 student Alyssa Castle is well on her way to a promising singing career.

Student sets her sights high

Truck catches alight on Pacific Highway

MAKING SURE: Rural Fire Service members from Ulmarra and Gulmarrad drench the skip bin to ensure it does not re-ignite.

The fire halted southbound traffic on the Pacific Highway

Gulaptis backs dirtgirl on plastic bags

TEAM EFFORT: Cate McQuillen and Hewey Eustace with Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis after receiving their Green Globe Award. Mr Gulaptis addressed Parliament about the pair's plan to make the Clarence Valley and North Coast single-use plastic bag free.

Local MP gets behind drive eliminate single-use plastic bags

Local Partners

Calls for kids to get a bit of cents

YOUNG Queenslanders are relying heavily on credit cards, with experts calling for greater “financial literacy” to be taught in schools

premium_icon Cotton Vale duo charged after grandson accidentally shot

Cameron Calvisi, 5, was accidentally shot in the face by his cousin. Picture: Mark Cranitch.

'My concern was always about Cammy, it was never about me'

Join Ivory Crush protest against elephant products

ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL: Sharon Pincott, pictured with Willa, says the world's largest land mammal is in trouble.

Conservationists are heading to Australia's first Ivory Crush

Skoda Superb wagon is spacious and nimble — the anti-SUV

Skoda Superb Wagon 162TSI.

Why drag an extra half a tonne of useless, expensive metal around?

5 words you are using incorrectly

VOCABULARY: This do would never homework where the word icon was incorrectly used.

How to avoid sounding like a teenager, even if you are one

To the stranger who Photoshopped my picture

This is what mum and I actually look like, imperfections and all. Photo: Supplied.

A stranger Photoshopped my pictures and shared them on Instagram

Don't delay: this test could save your life

LIFE-SAVING: Rob Patch is on a mission to convince people to have their sleep apnoea checked in order to prevent an early death.

"The doctors said I had come there to die.”