Aquarium treating 2nd seal from Va.

February 01, 1991|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,Evening Sun Staff

Specialists at the National Aquarium in Baltimore now have a second harbor seal pup they're nursing back to health after the animal washed ashore Monday in Virginia with an injured flipper.

Called simply "Pup 2," the new arrival was reported to be in "pretty good condition," undergoing treatment for lacerations and an infection to his left front flipper.

Pup 2 washed up in Virginia Beach, near where another young male harbor seal stranded Jan. 2 suffering from malnutrition, lungworm, blood poisoning and pneumonia.

That pup, called "Pup 1," was reported to be gaining weight, but animal-care specialist Cheryl Messinger said he was "still very sick."

Both pups still face major hurdles. "We can't be too hopeful yet," she said.

Pup 2 was found on the beach before dawn Monday and picked up by personnel from the Virginia Beach Marine Science Center. He was trucked to Baltimore late in the day.

Messinger said both seals are about 7 to 8 months old. Pup 2, at 5 1/2 -feet and 43 pounds, is a foot longer and almost 10 pounds heavier than Pup 1, which is believed stunted by malnutrition.

The new arrival "looks as though he has sustained some type of bite wound," Messinger said. "There are lots of lacerations . . . one of the nails appears to have been cracked, and the base of that nail is infected."

"He can use it and move it, but it is difficult," she said.

The pup is "very active, as well as very alert," Messinger said. Bloods tests done so far have been normal, but tests for bacterial infections are incomplete.

Pup 2 is being force-fed whole fish which, because they are dead, are "very alien to him now," she said.

Both seals are being kept in an indoor isolation pool area, in separate enclosures, each with a deck and plastic wading pool. They are being kept apart to minimize the risk of infections.

Messinger said Pup 1 is gaining weight again on a diet of ground fish mixed in an enriched milk formula recommended by the New England Aquarium. A medical setback recently saw his weight decline suddenly from 38 pounds to 30 pounds.

The pup now weighs 34 1/2 pounds and has been treated successfully for the blood infection and stomach worms.

"Now the main focus is to get him to gain weight," Messinger said. "Once we get him to gain enough, we will try to treat him for the lungworm condition."

She described Pup 1 as "very alert, very bright, but he doesn't move around very much. He sleeps mostly, underneath a heat lamp."

Aquarium officials say they have no reason to suspect any connection between the two strandings. They still hope to release both pups, if they survive, in New England waters in the spring or summer.

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