Stormy Night, the first elephant seal pup rescue of the 2017 season, is coming right along in her rehabilitation. She's active and vocal, but hasn't taken much interest in snapping up fish yet. She continues on tube feeding. She gets three 1,000-cc (about a quart) servings of an elephant seal formula fish-shake made of sustainably caught Alaskan herring, ground up and seasoned with salmon oil, thinned with water, each day.
|Stormy Night, photo by Bill Hunnewell © The Marine Mammal Center|
This rich formula is helping her gain the weight she needs to return to her wild home. She now weighs 101 pounds, up from the 76 pounds she weighed when she was rescued.
She needs to learn to catch and eat fish before she can be safely released into the ocean. She shows some interest when the staff and volunteers at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito offer her fish.
Her whiskers, vibrissae, extend forward, a good sign. "Veterinary staff are hopeful she soon will take the next step and start identifying fish as a food source," said Diana Kramer, director of the Morro Bay center.
Hartley, the pup who was rescued from the pile of driftwood and kelp north of the Piedras Blancas lighthouse, completed fish school in late March. "She was actively tracking fish and biting them off the string in fish school," Diana said.
|Hartley, photo by Bill Hunnewell © The Marine Mammal Center|
He's learning to take hand feeding of herring three times a day. "He's working on positioning and swallowing technique," she said. "He's making significant progress daily."
All that fish is helping him gain weight. He's now up to 83 pounds. He's progressing well and will probably be eating on his own soon.
All this care is expensive. TMMC is rescuing eight to ten seals a day. This is their busy season. Presently, over 90 elephant seals and more than 20 other marine mammals are patients at the hospital. They eat more than 500 pounds of food a day, at about a dollar a pound. They welcome donations.