Posts Tagged 'grey seals'

Update from the seal room: Countdown to release!

With the arrival of June and warmer weather, Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) staff and volunteers are preparing to release our rehab patients back to their natural environment. You may remember that eight weeks ago, Guinness the gray seal had a wire placed around his lower jaw to increase stabilization in order to facilitate healthy healing. Well, on June 7, our staff and veterinarians worked together to safely remove the wire to prepare him for his next big step…moving out, back into the wild!

Watch a video about Guinness’s jaw surgery:

Over these last few months, Guinness has made great progress in his healing and overall health. When he came to us in March, he was in great need of some hearty fish and some rest to heal his wounds that he acquired along his travels. Our Marine Animal Rescue Program staff and volunteers have worked nonstop to make sure that he is healthy and ready for release at the end of this month.

Guinness the Gray Seal

You may notice that Guinness no longer has that nice brown/tan coat that he came to us with, but now shows his true gray seal colors in black and gray.  Recently, he went through a molt where he lost all that brown fur to reveal his new black coat! The only evidence of his previous coloration lies around his rear flippers. You may also notice a yellow tag on his flipper. This tag will help us to identify him if he happens to venture into our local waters in the future. Tagging these rehabilitated animals is just one more step that our staff must take to prepare them for their big trip back to the ocean!

While Guinness is still with us for the next couple of weeks, we still need to keep his mind stimulated and his natural behaviors encouraged, which we do with daily environmental enrichment. In this picture you can see a pile of ice cubes with some capelin mixed in. This enrichment is not only a different way for Guinness to get some of his food, but it also helps to cool him down with the outside temperatures rising.

Guinness’s health and weight are much improved, and we at MARP hope to wish him safe travels later this month, pending his exit exam. Vets will check his blood diagnostics one final time, make sure his tag is healing appropriately, and also that the small incision under his jaw where the wire was removed is healed completely. After that, we will transport him to a quiet beach, where he can venture back into his natural environment.

We are also preparing to release the sea turtles that have been in rehabilitation since December. Rescuing and caring for these animals is very costly, and it would not be possible without the support of our volunteers and donations from friends like you. If you’d like to help support MARP, you can make a donation online, or donate $5 right from your mobile phone by texting ACT to 20222.

A one-time donation of $5 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. All donations must be authorized by the account holder. All charges are billed by and payable to your mobile service provider. Service is available on most carriers. Donations are collected for the benefit of the National Aquarium by the Mobile Giving Foundation and subject to the terms found at www.hmgf.org/t. Messaging & data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe at any time by texting STOP to 20222; text HELP to 20222 for help.

The season for helping seals

From Jenn Dittmar and Amber White

Spring is here, and that means thoughts of warmer weather, the beach, and vacations are in the air! But here in the Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP), spring is the season for seals. It’s the time of year that seals, and other marine mammal species like whales and dolphins, can be found along the Mid-Atlantic shoreline.

As we’ve noted in past posts, these animals, although beautiful to see in our area, are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and should be left to explore their natural environment without interruption. However, there are occasional circumstances in which a marine mammal is in distress, and is in need of medical care from trained veterinarians.

Already this year, we have received many reports of seal sightings in the region. Our staff and volunteers are specially trained to assess, monitor, and sometimes collect the animals if they are in need of rehabilitation.

"Stewie" lounging by his rehabilitation pool

In the past two weeks, we admitted two grey seals for rehabilitation. Rehabilitating wild animals can be difficult, as there is a need to minimize human contact. Our staff and volunteers work very hard to ensure the animals receive the best possible care while maintaining their natural behaviors and instincts.

On March 14, a young gray seal pup was admitted to our rehabilitation program. He was spotted on the beach in northern Ocean City, and our responders quickly evaluated his overall body condition and behavior. They reported that the animal appeared dehydrated, lethargic, and seemed to be coughing frequently. It quickly became apparent that the seal, later named Stewie, is still quite young. At the time, staff were unsure if he was even old enough to be eating and hunting for food on his own.

Once admitted for rehab and stabilized, staff tried various techniques to encourage his natural food hunting instincts. Those instincts quickly kicked in and he is currently eating 7 pounds of fish per day! He has shown improvements in his health and spends time swimming in his rehab pool.

On March 17, the MARP team received a call from North Carolina asking if we had room to admit an additional gray seal for rehabilitation. Their staff had been monitoring a juvenile gray seal for several days, and noted that the animal was emaciated, dehydrated, and had grown increasingly lethargic over two days.

"Guinness" swimming in his rehabilitation pool.

The seal was initially transported to the Virginia Aquarium’s rehabilitation facility for triage and some much-needed fluids. On March 18, the MARP team, in conjunction with the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Program and the MERR Institute in Delaware, transported the animal to Baltimore.

Appropriately named Guinness, as he stranded on St. Patrick’s Day, the seal was immediately provided triage and supportive care. Upon examination by our veterinary staff, it was determined that Guinness was suffering from pneumonia, a moderate jaw fracture, and an upper respiratory infection. Guinness is responding well to treatment and is currently eating more than 12 pounds of fish per day!

Both seals continue to do well, and we are looking forward to keeping you informed on their progress while they are in rehabilitation with us at the National Aquarium.

In addition to these two seals, we are still caring for the 11 sea turtles that came to us in December from the New England Aquarium. Caring for these animals is very costly. If you’d like to contribute to their care and feeding, you can make a donation online, or donate $5 right from your mobile phone by texting ACT to 20222.

A one-time donation of $5 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. All donations must be authorized by the account holder. All charges are billed by and payable to your mobile service provider. Service is available on most carriers. Donations are collected for the benefit of the National Aquarium by the Mobile Giving Foundation and subject to the terms found at www.hmgf.org/t. Messaging & Data Rates May Apply. You can unsubscribe at any time by texting STOP to 20222; text HELP to 20222 for help.



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