African penguins Admiral Paul, Baroness Jennifer and Captain Jack Sparrow were flown to Port Elizabeth where they were released into the ocean on Wednesday.
Joining the penguins was a female subantarctic fur seal, Peaches.
Admiral Paul became somewhat of a local celebrity after he was saved by an angler at Margate pier last month.
The South African Association for Marine Biological Research (Saambr) said the penguins had spent approximately two months in their care after being found stranded on various beaches in KZN.
Although they all arrived on different days their conditions were similar in that they fortunately had no permanent injuries and were merely underweight and exhausted.
“Whilst in our care they gained weight, regained their strength and completed their waterproofing. After their mandatory blood tests came back normal they were given the green light for release and we once again turned to the Bateleurs for assistance,” Saambr said.
The Bateleurs is a non-profit organisation that offers their services to a wide range of environmental organisations for free.
“Although we cannot say with certainty that the penguins originally came from PE there is a strong possibility that their home range is in the vicinity of Bird Island. Greg Hofmeyer from Bayworld kindly offered to release the penguins at Cape Recife once they arrived in PE,” said Saambr.
They also said Peaches would remain at Bayworld for a little longer before she is taken out to sea and released into the Agulhas current. The final step in her release is dependent, amongst other factors, on weather conditions.
“When Greg Hofmeyer lifted the lids on their transport boxes, they were a little hesitant to leave their boxes at first but once they were out, they quickly made their way into the ocean,” said Saambr.
“They are microchipped which means, if the opportunity presents, they can be identified and we will receive an update.”