Caring for Stranded Marine Animals
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Patient Update – Townsend

Townsend on his haul-out platform.It’s been a busy two weeks with our new patient – Townsend – the first in our new marine animal hospital. As with any new facility, we’re finding ourselves making adjustments and improvements to our facilities and procedures even as we carry out Townsend’s daily care and treatment regime.

To recap, Townsend is a juvenile male harbor seal that was admitted Tuesday, October 9th, as a transfer from the University of New England’s Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center. Read more about Townsend’s history here.

Townsend has adjusted well to his new environment. He swims, eats well, and likes to rest on the platform in his pool. Here’s a fun video of Townsend at feeding time!

Dr. Williams takes a sample from Townsend's left ear.

Dr. Williams takes a sample from Townsend’s left ear.

Just over a week ago, we noticed several small, round lesions on Townsend’s left side of his face and neck. We also noticed a discharge from his left ear. Last week, we sampled the lesions to test for possible seal pox. Seal pox is a type of poxvirus common to seals, especially younger seals. Although it is contagious to other seals, it is generally not very serious. If Townsend proves to have this illness, it would require a lengthened rehabilitation until he heals.

We also sampled the ear discharge and performed a contrast radiograph (x-ray with dye) to test for ear infection. These tests were inconclusive, so we have scheduled a CT (“Cat”) scan at the Computerized Scanning and Imaging Facility at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Should Townsend prove to have a middle ear infection, this is a serious disease that can be fatal and would at minimum require additional treatment, possible surgery, and long term rehabilitation. In the meantime, we are treating Townsend’s ear daily by flushing it with dilute betadine antiseptic and applying a broad-spectrum antibiotic and antifungal ointment.

Stay tuned for more updates. Also check out our Facebook page for additional photos and updates.
And, to donate to Townsend’s rehabilitation, please visit and click on “Donate Now”. Thank you!

Townsend the harbor seal


  1. You’re welcome, Gretchen. We didn’t want folks to worry! We tried also posting a sign on the side of his pool but it didn’t show on camera. Anyway, all’s fine here. Hope the same is true in Virginia.

  2. Thank you so much for posting the comment of why Townsend’s tank was empty–seen via the webcam–due to hurrican prep. I was concerned when I didn’t see anything happening

  3. Thanks! CT scan went well but did prove he has a middle ear disease called “otitis media”. We’ll post more information soon.

  4. Hope the ear infection clears up soon, and the CT scan in Woods Hole is helpful.


  1. Townsend Shows We’re All Connected! | - […] hospital just over a year ago. You may have read about him in previous website posts (Arrival, Detection of…
  2. Patient Profiles | - [...] about his arrival at NMLC click here.  About a week after his arrival we noticed a discharge from Townsend’sleft…
  3. CT scans at WHOI diagnose ear infection in Townsend | - [...] we reported last month, shortly after arrival we noticed a discharge coming from Townsend’s left ear. We feared this…

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