Thursday, October 6, 2011
Squalicum Beach Seal Rescue
Today we received a call about a harbor seal at Squalicum Beach with injuries to its head. WMMSN responders arrived on scene to find that this seal not only had head injuries, but also appeared to be pinned in the water between rocks.
Given the small size of the seal (about 2.5 feet in length) we determined it was under a year in age, probably weaned only a month or so ago. When I first spotted the seal, it was hard to tell whether or not it was even alive. Given the predicament it was in, it wouldn't have been hard to imagine it had died. The waves washed in and out, but the seal did not move. It was an utterly heartbreaking sight. Then, it let out a few wheezing coughs, and the rest of the WMMSN responders arrived. It was time to get to work saving this seal!
We moved as many rocks as we could, but the seal still appeared pinned in place. We were all tempted to just grab it under its flipper pits and try to gently lift it out of there, but despite its injuries, this seal was quite alert and growling up a storm. We were definitely looking at the business end of those chompers! With a little bit of creative thinking, we were able to manipulate a net into a harness around its midsection. One responder lifted another rock, the seal started to scamper out of its hole, and with the net we were able to coax it into a pet carrier. Finally, it was ready for transport!
Next came the ordeal of HOW to transport it. San Juan Airlines is very generous, and allows us to put seal pups on their plane bound for San Juan Island, home of Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, free of charge. Unfortunately for us though, the last flight of the day had already gone out. Two of our responders volunteered to drive the seal down to Anacortes, and escort it on the ferry, as Wolf Hollow volunteers were waited on the other side to receive it.
Our mission was a success. We were able to rescue and safely transport the seal to the rehab center, but it's not out of the woods yet. Now it is up to Wolf Hollow volunteers to nurse this little one back to health. Let's hope this little harbor seal has the strength and will to live, and will pull through and be released back into the wild!
Stay tuned for more updates about this little seal, as well as our soon-to-be-released rescued pups from this summer!