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Rescue of injured seal pup a combined effort of networks

(see update at end of story)
Yesterday, Seal Sitters’ volunteers met up with a volunteer from Vashon to transport an injured seal pup to PAWS in Lynnwood. Four NW marine mammal stranding networks had been on the lookout for the severely lacerated pup.

On Wednesday evening, our hotline received a report of a pup with a severe cut on a public beach in Des Moines near the marina. The reporting party, Pam, then had to leave the site briefly. Soon after, a team from WDFW Marine Mammal Investigations (Dyanna Lambourn and Josh Oliver) and MaST Stranding Network’s volunteer Mikiko, arrived on the scene, but the pup had vanished. This was quite a baffling mystery since the pup would have had to traverse a 60+ yard distance at low tide to get back to the water in a very short time. The team searched the vast beach in the darkness, but could see no sign of the pup. It is surmised that perhaps someone moved the pup back to the water.

At 6:30 am the next morning, Seal Sitters’ first responder scoured the shoreline as well as the docks at the marina, but again there was no sign of the pup. Late that afternoon, NOAA’s hotline received a call from Wolftown on Vashon (the marine mammal stranding network for the island) that an injured pup was seen on KVI beach. Photos were compared with one from Wednesday night and it was confirmed to be the same pup. It was encouraging that the pup was able to swim across Puget Sound with such an injury, possibly human-caused. Plans were set into motion to try to capture the pup for transport to rehab, but each time Wolftown received a call, the pup was gone when they arrived. Late Sunday afternoon, however, the pup was successfully captured and housed at Wolftown’s facility overnight.

Early Monday morning, Seal Sitters’ volunteers met the 7:55 ferry from Vashon and transferred the dark, spotted pup (nicknamed Freckles by Vashon’s volunteer Debby) to PAWS Wildlife Center (photo above). Seal Sitters received a followup call in the afternoon that Freckles was blind in one eye (most likely due to an old puncture wound) and had a number of lacerations, including the very severe one above the left flipper. Freckles will be x-rayed today and undergo a possible surgery. It could not be determined if the wound was human-caused. The male pup weighed in at 13.6 kg and a length of 81cm.

This is a prime example of how area stranding networks join together - this time to locate, rescue and provide care for a little seal pup. We will keep you posted on Freckles progress as he continues rehabilitation at PAWS.

10/17 4:17 PUPDATE
We are very, very sad to report that Freckles died yesterday. Thanks to everyone who tried so hard to help this beautiful pup.
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