Posts Tagged 'seals'



Animal Rescue Update: We’re Currently Treating a Second Seal

Animal Rescue Update

Staff with the National Aquarium Animal Rescue have been busy caring for two juvenile seals in rehabilitation.

The first seal, a harbor seal admitted on February 15, has been doing very well. While recovering from pneumonia and an upper respiratory infection, the seal broke out with sealpox lesions. Sealpox is a viral infection similar to human chicken pox. Staff monitored the seal closely during this time to make sure he received the proper nutrition, hydration, and rest that was needed. We’re happy to report that the sealpox lesions have subsided, and the seal has been quite active lately – an indication he’s likely feeling better.

seal

The second seal , a grey seal pup, was admitted on April 1 (Easter) and has recently shown a lot of progress. The grey seal was admitted for a significant injury to the left front flipper that affects a digit joint.

grey seal

Grey seal pups present a unique challenge to rehabilitation staff, because they often require to be ‘taught’ to eat solid food. Grey seal mom’s nurse their young for about three weeks, then usually abandon the pup. The pup is left to learn to eat, navigate, and be social all on their own. This little grey was no exception and challenged our staff – we were patient through the learning process and supplemented his diet with fish smoothies while he learned.

seal

I’m happy to say, that this little guy has come a long way and is eating his full diet on his own – a big accomplishment for a little grey! Veterinarians are treating the flipper injury and monitoring its progress closely.

Stay tuned for more updates on these guys! 

Blog-Header-JennDittmar

MARP Update: We Are Currently Rehabilitating a Harbor Seal

UPDATE: March 25, 2013

In an effort to keep our seal patient’s mind stimulated and encourage natural behaviors, our Marine Animal Rescue team provides daily environmental enrichment.

For today’s enrichment, our team decided to take advantage of the snow and bring it indoors. They filled the deck with clean snow and hid fish in the snow for the seal to find – kind of like a game of hide and seek! He was eager to eat breakfast!

snow seal enrichment

 

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UPDATE: March 6, 2013

We’re happy to report that our harbor seal patient is doing very well! He is still being treated by veterinarians and husbandry staff for abrasions and a severe upper-respiratory infection. Since first arriving at our Animal Care Center, we’ve also been able to successfully increase the his diet to 5 ½ pounds of fish per day. We hope to continue to increase the seal’s diet, so that he can gain a little more weight!

Our next steps of treatment include another round of medications to ensure his system is free of infections and parasites. Once he is given a “clean bill of health,” our staff will begin discussing release options!

Stay tuned for more updates on our patient! 

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Our Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) team is currently caring for a juvenile harbor seal found off the coast of Delaware.

After being spotted and closely observed by our local stranding partner, MERR Institute, it was determined that the seal was in need of immediate care and rehabilitation.

Our harbor seal patient resting near its rehab. pool.

Our harbor seal patient resting near its rehab. pool.

Upon arrival at our Animal Care Center, Aquarium husbandry staff and veterinarians  performed a thorough exam, collected blood samples and began treating the seal for dehydration.

Initially too ill to eat solid foods, our seal patient was been fed a fish-based “smoothie.” We’re happy to report that the seal has now moved onto solid foods (its diet currently consists of capelin and herring fish)!

Staff is hoping that our patient will gain some weight and keep up a healthy appetite.

Staff is hoping that our patient will gain some weight and keep up a healthy appetite.

In addition to dehydration, we are currently treating the seal for pneumonia, parasites and a respiratory infection.

Stay tuned for more updates on our patient! 

Thoughtful Thursdays: Spotted! Seals Make Their Way to MD Shores

As temperatures continue to drop here in Maryland and along the East Coast, migrating seals are making their way back to our shores!

This seal was spotted near 28th street in Ocean City, Maryland! Photo via Maryland Coastal Bays Program

This seal was spotted near 28th street in Ocean City, Maryland! Photo via Maryland Coastal Bays Program

Seals are semi-aquatic (which means they like to spend part of the time in the water and part of the time on land). They will typically spend multiple days swimming south, only to haul out on beaches, rocks or docks to rest. Seals will also haul out on exceptionally stormy or sunny days – this gives them a chance to wait out the stormy seas or soak up some warm sun, depending on the weather.

If you’re lucky enough to see a seal on the beach in Maryland, it’s best to give the animal lots of space (at least 100 feet of distance) and stay downwind, if possible. By all means, enjoy watching the seals and take plenty of pictures, but please do not disturb them – they have had a long commute from the north.

Furthermore, disturbing the animal by making it change locations or flee back into the water is against the law. Seals are federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

A healthy, resting seal will typically be seen in a “banana position” on their side with their head or rear flippers in the air (see photo below). A seal that is entangled in marine debris or has physical wounds will often be resting flat on its stomach and may need medical attention.

posture

If you see a seal that may be in need of medical attention, please call the National Aquarium’s Stranding Hotline at 410-373-0083, or the Natural Resources Police at 1-800-628-9944.

Thoughtful Thursdays: Save the Monk Seals

From Laura Bankey, Director of Conservation

I recently attended the National Wildlife Federation annual meeting. This is the one time during the year that all state affiliates gather to decide areas of focus for NWF in the future. At this meeting, conservation resolutions are proposed, debated, and voted on.

For this year’s consideration, the Conservation Council of Hawaii asked the National Aquarium to be a co-sponsor of the Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Resolution. We gladly signed on, and I’m happy to say the resolution was adopted by the affiliates.
Hawaiian Monk Seal

Photo credit: NOAA

With fewer than 1,100 individuals remaining, the Hawaiian monk seal is the most endangered marine mammal in U.S. waters. Monk seals are at risk due to entanglement in fishing gear and other marine debris, overfishing, inadequate marine protected areas, invasive species, canine diseases, ocean acidification, sea level rise, and intentional killing by individuals who view the seals as competition for declining fish stocks.

Monk Seal Entangled

A Hawaiian monk seal entangled in fishing debris. Photo credit: NOAA

The critical status of the Hawaiian monk seal warrants our immediate and prolonged attention. The fate of this species is intricately related to ocean health issues and to additional pressures we humans are subjecting to this animal and the delicate ecosystem it calls home.
We are calling for federal agencies to implement policies and funding mechanisms that will serve to protect Hawaiian monk seal habitat and promote the recovery and reestablishment of the species throughout its native range.

Gearing up for seal season

‘Tis the season for the East Coast to receive guests, in the form of seals. It is a spectacular sight to see these animals come and rest on our local beaches, but the Marine Animal Rescue team would like to keep you safe while you enjoy these animals. Please read over the following information on how to properly view these animals, and how you can help report a sighting or injured seal during this winter season.

Typically in our Mid-Atlantic region, we see four types of seals, including harp, gray, hooded, and harbor seals. These animals are semi-aquatic, meaning they can survive for lengths of time both in water and on land. When we spot seals on land, they are usually resting after long swims, or even warming up in the sunlight. They are generally solitary animals, but will haul out (on land) in larger groups as a survival tactic. Knowing when and where these animals are hauling out is important information for the Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) staff. If you would like to report a sighting in your area, feel free to contact the National Aquarium’s Hotline at 410-373-0083.

Along the Eastern Shore, the MARP team has first responders who are specially trained to assess an animal’s condition from a safe distance, and know how to approach the public to teach them more about these animals. The federal law states that “disturbing, harassing, or injuring seals is illegal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.” It is very important that the public knows not to treat the seal like a domesticated animal. This includes but is not limited to feeding, touching, or approaching the seal. When pups are weaned from their mothers they are opportunistic feeders, and if the pup is not yet weaned and human interaction occurs, the mother may abandon the pup.

The most helpful thing you can do for the animal, regardless of the animal’s condition, is to stay at least 150 feet away from the seal and call the MARP hotline at 410-373-0083. Just as dogs will often growl if uncomfortable with humans in their presence, seals will emit a deep growl and show teeth–this means that you are too close to the animal. You should return to a safe distance and ask that others do the same. 

Once our staff and first responders are onsite, the animal’s health and behaviors are evaluated.  The team is looking for any signs of injury such as entanglement, sores or abrasions, open wounds, bleeding, cataracts, dehydration, and emaciation. If injured, the animal will already have a high level of stress due to the fact that it has stranded itself on the beach. Approaching the animal could increase stress even further, making the animal feel the need to flee the area, even when injured. This decreases the chances that the MARP team will be able to help the animal. So keeping your distance is very important for the health and welfare of these animals.

The best way to tell whether an animal is healthy and merely resting, or sick and injured lies within its posture. When a seal is lying in a “banana-shaped” position, the animal is simply resting and will more than likely return to the water when it’s ready.

If a seal is lying in a “bear rug” position with its stomach and head lying on the ground, the animal is in need of further monitoring and, potentially rehabilitation.

As a parting thought, the MARP team would like to remind everyone that it is never a good idea to try to approach, feed, or touch any wild animal. Wild animals, including seals, carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans. If you find a wild animal, the best thing to do is contact the appropriate authorities for information. We recommend starting with your local Animal Control officers. These are trained experts with knowledge of local species and connections to other wildlife experts for unusual cases.


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