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The Journey of a Recovering Gray Seal Pup!

A fresh fish full of nutrients splashes on the water’s surface. Unbeknownst to the young gray seal, the fish’s actions are orchestrated by an animal rescue staff member just out of his sight. The fish is released, and he dives in foraging for his meal. The seal pup holds the fish in his mouth, leans his head back, and swallows it whole. 

Today, the approximately 8-week-old seal pup is dynamic and alert to his surrounding. Three weeks ago, he was in a completely different state. Malnourished and weakened, the gray seal struggled for survival on the Misquamicut State Beach in Westerly, RI. Luckily, a call to our Animal Rescue Hotline brought the arrival of our Animal Rescue Team. The staff and volunteers loaded the rescued gray seal into the van and drove him to the Animal Rescue Clinic.

Upon arrival, the pup received a thorough admit exam including auscultation (listen) to heart and lungs, abdominal palpation, eye and mouth exams and general external inspection for any wounds or concerns. Blood was also collected for evaluation of systemic health. Our veterinarians also administered an antibiotic injection to fight potential diseases or heal hidden wounds. From the examination, we diagnose the pup as underweight and malnourished. His teeth size and coat indicated the gray seal was a male pup recently weaned from his mother and struggled to transition into life independently from her. Despite his dismal condition, a potential future in the Ocean still exists for him, and our World Class Care will help him achieve that feat.

Over the past three weeks, he responded well to subcutaneous fluids and nutritional support to treat his poor nutrition. Subcutaneous fluids help with hydration by injecting sterile fluids into the space under the skin, subcutaneous tissue, where the fluid is slowly absorbed into the bloodstream. Furthermore, we ensure he receives the proper amount of nutrition without creating an association of food with humans. At first, Animal Rescue staff had to use a grabber to place fish in his mouth. He would chew the fish instead of swallowing it like an adult seal. By now, the pup dives to forage for fish and swallow them whole. Since his arrival, he has gained several pounds, and we are optimistic he is almost complete with his recovery at the Animal Rescue Clinic. Once cleared, the seal pup will return to the Ocean to take on adulthood. We expect the release to occur at the end of March or early April.

The Animal Rescue Program often provides opportunities to volunteer and support marine animals along 1,000 miles of the Northeastern coastline throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Fishers Island, New York. If you spot a pup or another animal potential in need, you can leave a message on the 24-hour Animal Rescue Hotline at 860.572.5955 x107 and expect a return call.

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