This week at NMLC has had its ups and downs. We unfortunately had to say goodbye to Prudence who passed away Friday morning. Her passing was unexpected given her progression and her exact cause of death is still unknown. A necropsy is being conducted to investigate further and collect necessary samples for analysis.
However, we are proud to announce that a release date has been scheduled for our first group of harbor seals this season! Ned, Plum, Bird, and Monomoy were given their pre-release vet exam and are set to be released at a private event on August 5th!
The goal weight for a harbor seal pup or weanling to be released is 25 kg (55 lbs) and Ned, Plum, Bird, and Monomoy have been rapidly gaining weight, approaching this goal. They each eat over 3 kg (7 lbs) of fish every day and their constant swimming helps them gain muscle. The seals are able to eat their feeds quickly and effectively, proving to staff that they are capable of catching food on their own.
This week, Bug, Montauk, Seguin, and Cleveland were upgraded to NMLC’s second large pre-release pool! This large pool gives the seals more space to swim, dive deeper and eat their feeds. Bug, Montauk, and Seguin have been mastering mass feeding, and they are getting faster each day!
Cleveland has not quite picked up the mass feeding technique yet. Although he does not participate in the mass feeds, he has been seen following Montauk while Montauk is eating. In the wild, seals learn how to hunt and eat by observing other seals. By watching Montauk eat fish in the water on his own, we hope that Cleveland will learn how to mass feed soon!
Owl continues to receive treatment for his tremors and enjoys his daily swim time. He can often be seen laying on his back in his kiddie pool! Owl has also received a new roommate this week. Marble has gained some strength and energy and has moved in with Owl. However, seal lice were found on Marble after she was witnessed itching herself. Lice in seals is similar to lice in humans, and can be treated with the appropriate medication.
This week has been an exciting week for Derby! The biopsy that was taken from Derby last week failed to show lesions consistent with pox. This means that Derby does not have seal pox! Derby’s bite wounds have also healed rapidly and are barely noticeable in places. Another milestone passed by Derby this week was eating his first whole fish during feeding! Derby has regained his energy and started showing interest in fish during swim time. Seals are occasionally given live bait fish to pique their interest in fish. Derby has enjoyed tracking these fish and has even eaten a few!
Recently, Wings has been trying to feed in the water. Pups begin by feeding on the floor of their enclosure. Overtime, they progress to be fed under the water to get used to what feeding in the wild would be like. Wings still eats the fish with her head above the water, but we hope she will be eating fully under the water soon as she recovers more from her middle ear infection, otitis media!
Thacher was moved to a new enclosure this week and gets an entire kiddie pool all to himself! He has also continued to learn and progress with eating fish on his own and in the pool. However, Thacher did come down with an eye infection. He receives daily treatment and his eye has already significantly improved!
Although Tutis was moved to a slightly smaller pool to make room for the seals in the large pool, Tutis is still doing well. This week he was even given a new EED! EEDs or environmental enrichment devices to encourage natural species behavior. This week Tutis was given a ball similar to a large wiffle ball with squid inside of it!
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.