Injured Seal Pup Update

October 25, 2006

The pup, found in a DUII arrest in September, continues to gain weight

An injured harbor seal pup that was confiscated by State Police in Florence and brought to the Oregon Coast Aquarium continues to improve and her wounds are healing. The injured pup had multiple puncture wounds and infections when she was discovered in a vehicle during a DUII arrest September 17. Oregon State Police arrested a 24 year-old male for driving under the influence of intoxicants and possession of protected wildlife. When the man was arrested in Florence he had the seal pup and a pit bull in his vehicle.

Aquarium Director of Husbandry Jim Burke reports that she is swimming much of the day and is being fed without seeing people in an effort to prevent imprinting. The objective is to help the animal recover with as little human interaction as possible so she doesn’t associate food with people. The pup cannot be viewed by the public.“Right now she eats 8 pounds of live fish in small quantities every day and her white blood cell count has dropped which means her infection is decreasing,” said Burke. “She has gone from 18 pounds the day she was brought in to her current weight of 39 pounds. We hope to release her at 50 pounds if all goes well.”

Burke said the specifics about her release will be determined by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The cost of caring for the pup will be covered by grants from the Kinsman Foundation and the Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation and the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

Burke hopes the incident will serve as a reminder that it’s not only a bad idea to pick up a stranded seal pup, but it is illegal because they are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. “Most people are well intentioned, but it is still not in the best interest of the animal to pick it up or even go near it.” Burke said the Aquarium rehabilitates animals that are injured by human interference, not by natural processes. “It’s important not to interfere with nature. Often a mother will leave her pup on the beach and come back for it later, but if the seal is moved it can become permanently separated from its mother.” Burke said if a marine mammal is obviously injured, people should leave it alone and call the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network at (541) 867-0446 or Oregon State Police at (541) 265-5353.