This week was an exciting week at NMLC! We released our first harbor seals of the season! Bird, Plum, Ned, and Monomoy completed their rehabilitation and were returned to the ocean on Gooseberry Island. The event was live streamed on our Facebook page and the video is still available if you missed it!
Back at NMLC, the seals in the pre-release pool ST2 continue to grow and improve in their mass feeding. While Bug, Seguin, and Montauk have mastered the mass feeding technique, Cleveland is still learning. Cleveland has progressed well with being hand-fed fish underwater and he has begun to show interest during the mass feed.
However, this week, Cleveland tested positive for influenza, more commonly referred to as the flu. Similar to the flu in humans, infected seals will exhibit symptoms of sneezing and increased respiration rates. Although Cleveland has been the only seal to test positive for the flu, both Seguin and Montauk have recently exhibited similar respiratory symptoms. Luckily, Cleveland already appears to be feeling better! The flu is considered zoonotic and can transfer from seals to humans. This is just another reason to make sure you stay 150ft away from any seal you see on the beach!
With four seals released, our other big pool, DJF, was open for new patients. Marblehead and Thacher Island had both proven to staff that they are able to mass feed and they have been moved to the big pool!
Although Marble is currently one of our smallest seals, she is not to be underestimated. She went straight from being tube-fed fish smoothies to mass feeding all on her own! Staff never had to assist her with positioning and swallowing fish. This is because Marble came to NMLC as a weanling. She was no longer maternally dependent and was likely eating fish on her own before her arrival. Marble is a quick eater and often has friendly competition with Thacher for fish.
This week, Owls Head was given swim tests in one of the big pools, DJF! Owl is being treated continuously for his tremors and conducting swim tests in large pools allows staff to observe his behaviors in deeper water. It took Owl a little while to get used to swimming in the pool, but he was soon very curious and energetic. He also enjoyed diving and playing with other seals in the pool.
Wings Neck has begun to learn the technique of mass feeding while her otitis media continues to be monitored. Being able to position fish in the water without assistance is a big step for seals. Mass feeding mimics natural conditions where a seal must capture and eat fish that are swimming. Although Wings is still a bit slow at mass feeding, she is learning quickly and will hopefully be prepared for one of the big pools soon.
Derby was moved to a new enclosure this week with a deeper pool. The deeper pool allows the seals to have more space to gain strength swimming and hauling out. Derby has also moved to a diet consisting of only whole fish. Derby has progressed significantly with positioning and swallowing fish with less assistance from staff!
Tutis appears to be doing better this week. His appetite has increased and he eats almost his entire feed each day! Tutis has also been taken off medication, although he still gets daily vitamins and supplements. His osteolysis is being monitored for improvement as he continues to grow.
Thank you so much for all of your continued support! Stay tuned for more updates on our patients in the weeks to come, and keep up with us on Instagram, Tik Tok, and Facebook @nationalmarinelifecenter !
Posted by Meaghan K.
Meaghan is a summer intern who is majoring in Marine and Freshwater Biology at Colgate University.