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Necropsy results in for Twiggy

Seal Sitters has received information regarding the necropsy results for seal pup, Twiggy, who hauled out on the south end of Alki Beach late last week. She had an abnormal liver, enlarged gall bladder and bleeding into the gastrointestinal tract. This is the third pup that SS knows of recently that has exhibited an enlarged gall bladder - the pup taken from a beach on the coast that was rehabbed successfully at PAWS, Storm who was rescued from Lincoln Park on Labor Day (and who is doing quite well at PAWS), and now this pup. Biologists do not know the root cause for this condition. Additionally, this is not the first pup that has had an abnormal liver; Twiggy’s liver was an orangish color and other dead pups have had “day-glo” orange livers according to WDFW’s marine mammal biologist. Histopaths thus far have revealed no conclusive cause for the unusual coloration.

Another pup was found dead early yesterday morning at Duwamish Head and was taken to WDFW Marine Mammal Investigations for a necropsy. This is the same pup that volunteers observed til very late the night before at the north end of Alki Beach. The pup was alert and active and there was no obvious cause for concern at that time. The pup slept comfortably among the rocks on the beach. There is a 50% mortality rate for seal pups during their first year of life. The weaning period is an extremely difficult transition for pups.

Life and death on Alki Beach

This morning, our responder found Twiggy, still on the beach at Alki. She could see that the pup was in trouble. There was nothing to indicate last night that Twiggy had any health concerns, other than she was on the thin side. No wounds, labored breathing, or anything else to raise alarm. She simply slept peacefully on the beach access steps. However, at 5:30 this morning, her breathing was quite labored and she displayed other symptoms that she was in crisis. Twiggy was rescued from the beach - too weak to resist - and driven to PAWS. Attempts were made to stabilize her with oxygen and fluids, but the female pup died this morning. WDFW’s marine mammal biologist will perform a necropsy to determine the cause of her death. We will update you with the results when we receive them.

Another pup was found dead this morning at Constellation Park, but was not the seal pup Stella that has hauled out there the past two days. This is the time of year when pups are struggling to survive the weaning process and, sadly, we lose too many every season.

This is the most difficult facet of Seal Sitters’ work and takes a toll on everyone involved. We give heartfelt thanks to PAWS’ staff for trying to save Twiggy and thanks, as always, to Dyanna Lambourn for her sage advice very early on a Saturday morning.

Three pups on the beach keep Seal Sitters busy

A third pup hauled out late this afternoon on south Alki Beach. This long, white and somewhat thin pup has been nicknamed Twiggy and rested late into the evening tonight. Volunteers were kept very busy trying to monitor and protect Twiggy, Brownie and Stella in completely different geographic locations in West Seattle. We also received a report of a fourth pup near the lighthouse, but that pup was not located. This pup season may well surpass our bumper crop of 2007, our first year as a stranding network. Thanks to all our very tired volunteers who have donated so much of their time these past crazy weeks.
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