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A very lucky seal pup!

Very lucky seal pup that he wound up at OCA for treatment.
OCA photo

Monday afternoon the Oregon Coast Aquarium admitted an injured male northern fur seal pup for rehabilitation. The cause? Entanglement by a plastic string, likely from a balloon or packaging material. The string bore through the young seal’s thick fur coat and skin, leaving an open wound around the neck.

An officer with the NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement reported the injured animal to the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network (OMMSN) after it was found in an RV parking lot in Winchester Bay. The small seal was vocal and appeared alert despite its injuries.

OMMSN Stranding Coordinator, Jim Rice, who also works with Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, contacted Oregon Coast Aquarium Director of Animal Husbandry, Jim Burke, to inquire about admitting the pup for rehabilitation. Upon Burke’s positive confirmation, Rice drove to retrieve the injured animal and transport it to the Aquarium. A few hours later, Aquarium staff admitted the pup for care, immediately removed the entanglement, and administered wound treatment.

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Aquarium staff will continue to provide antibiotics, fluids, and radiant heat for the northern fur seal pup until its planned release tomorrow. Staff will also tag the animal for future identification purposes in case it was ever to strand again.

“The sooner the pup is released, the better,” said Burke. “The animal would not have survived without being dis-entangled. He is stronger today now that we’ve removed the entanglement and administered multiple courses of antibiotics. The best thing is to get the pup back in the water where it can hunt for food. Luckily, the wound appears superficial.”

“When people release balloons into the air, they often end up in the ocean. Then the string potentially becomes entanglement to marine life,” said Rice. “The OMMSN sees this situation often. We don’t get an awful lot of live fur seals, but we do see dead entangled animals regularly. This guy is lucky.”

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