Monday, December 2, 2013


Seals entangled in plastic lines and straps are not uncommon. Today, one seal that has been released from an entanglement was on the beach, and a crew of Marine Mammal Center workers were planning to free another.

These photos show Gordo, a seal who was freed from the plastic that was killing him in July 2013. He's tagged as a result of his previous encounter, and his scar is distinctive, so it's certainly the same seal. He sure looks better than he did when he was found suffering on the Big Sur coast!

It's amazing that seals can have such serious injuries and survive them, to thrive in the difficult and dangerous ocean.

Rescuers from the Marine Mammal Center searched the beach until they found another seal that was reported with a plastic strap around his neck. He was about 200 yards south of the south end of the Piedras Blancas boardwalk.
He's in the center of this photo, with the strap obvious around his neck. Lisa Harper Henderson, site manager for the Morro Bay Marine Mammal Center facility, reports that the team later found "The entanglement was yet another packing strap." 

The seal was a male about five years old, weighing about 160 kilograms, 350 pounds. Rescuers were able to cut the strap, but skin had grown around it on the underside, embedding it in the flesh. "We do not pull on embedded materials because we could cause more harm, such as bleeding if a vein is involved," she said. 

The seal had about eight inches of white packing strap flapping loose on his neck when they were done. Normal recovery should allow the area to heal and the strap to fall off on its own. I'll keeep an eye out for him and post a photo when I find him,. 

Entanglements are tragic, slow death for the seals, the result of our careless trash in the ocean. My hope is that every person who visits the elephant seals comes away committed to reducing the trash and pollution of the ocean.

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