The big day has arrived for Nireas, a Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) pup that had been found last month on a Kythira island beach severely dehydrated, and after five weeks at the Seal Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (STRC) in Steni Valia on Alonissos island will be released back into the sea on Saturday.

Nireas, as the Monachus monachus seal pup was "christened" at the Center, was just 2 1/2 months old when he was found on February 14 on Feloti beach on Kythira very weakened, weighing just 30 kilos, severely dehydrated and its peptic system heavily infected by parasites, but responded quickly and well to intensive treatment at the center.

The pup now enjoys the best of health, and weighs in at over 50 kilos.

Nireas is scheduled to be released back into the open sea on Saturday, in the region of the Alonnisos Marine Park of the Northern Sporades island complex, from where he will begin his long journey through the Greek seas.

Rehabilitating injured or ailing seals is one of the most significant, and surely the most difficult, activities of the Center over the last 22 years, since its founding in 1990.

For a species threatened with extinction, to save even one animal is crucial for the species’ protection and preservation, according to the Center's staff.

The Monachus monachus (Mediterranean monk seal) is listed as a "critically endangered" species.