10/12/2013 07:25 EDT | Updated 12/12/2013 05:12 EST

Vancouver Aquarium releases 11 seals at Crescent Beach

The Vancouver Aquarium released 11 harbour seals at Crescent Beach in South Surrey on Saturday.

The seals were rescued from all over B.C. and brought to the aquarium's rehabilitation centre, where they stayed for two to three months, said Lindsaye Akhurst, manager at the Vancouver Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Centre (MMRC).

When the seals were found, most had been separated from their mothers and suffered from dehydration and malnourishment.

"Most can be in pretty rough shape," Akhurst said. "These are animals that, without our program, without our staff and volunteers, wouldn't be able to survive."

For the last 50 years, the MMRC has rehabilitated thousands of marine mammals.

This year alone, about 70 seals have been rescued and nearly half have been released, Akhurst said, adding that releasing the seals can be bittersweet for many of the employees and staff at the non-profit aquarium.

"You spend so much time with these guys, you get used to them, you have personalities and to release them again, it's great because that's what we want to do, but at the same time you're going to miss them."