A Porpoise in Life – Meet Noodle!

While our seal patients give us day-to-day purpose, very occasionally we find added reasons to work hard, like caring for a porpoise.

MMoMe and MARC Staff moving Noodle into the Hospital

“Noodle” arrived to MARC on Wednesday evening.  He was found in Brunswick, Maine at the outgoing tide and was collected and transported to us by Marine Mammals of Maine (MMoMe) (www.mmome.org).  They are a newly formed non-profit that responds to marine mammals in southern Maine.  The young, male harbor porpoise arrived around 7 pm to our hospital and initial assessment revealed very little about the cause of stranding.

Admit Physical and Blood Exam

He’s in healthy body condition and blood results looked normal.  He is a very low stress guy.  Estimated age is 1-2 years.  He is just over 50 pounds.

MMoMe and MARC Staff lower Noodle into shallow pool

When he was placed in the water, it took quite a bit of effort for him to swim.  We started with 3 people supporting him in the pool, so he would be able to reach the surface to breath through his blowhole.  They were also there to help him avoid hitting walls while he learned his way around.

Lynda Doughty, Executive Director, Marine Mammals of Maine, supports Noodle during his first few moments in the pool

After a few hours, it became apparent that the animal was going to require constant help surfacing and navigating until he regained some strength.  At midnight Weds/Thurs, we constructed a support raft from pool noodles (hence, the name “Noodle”) to help him float.  After 5 minutes of being in his apparatus, Noodle calmed down and started swimming around with ease.

Volunteers assist Noodle as he adjusts to his flotation system

He spent the next 24 hours in this quickly crafted life-jacket, resting and recuperating.  Over the course of the 24 hours, we gave him a few chances to swim without, but he was still very tired and sinking.  At about 4 am this morning, we tried again, and Noodle was able to swim with ease and surface to breathe.  He has been “noodle-free” since that time.
Noodle’s first 24-hours in the hospital were all about rest and hydration.  He received several tube-feedings of fluids, but starting Thursday afternoon, we started to offer him fish.  It took a few rounds of assist-feeding (placing the fish in his mouth until he swallows) to get him started, but by Friday morning he was swimming and diving to catch the fish in the water column.
We’ll continue to update on Noodle’s case as often as we can.  To learn more about Noodle and all of our patients, please visit our website.
Special thanks to MMoMe‘s Staff and volunteers for transport and beach assessment (and spending Noodle’s first evening with us), Cabela’s for providing some amazing gear to keep our volunteers/staff warm in the pool, and our Frolic for Flippers 5K sponsors, whose generosity continues to help us everyday and our dedicated volunteers for sitting poolside with Noodle and monitoring him while he recovers.

2 Responses to “A Porpoise in Life – Meet Noodle!”

  1. Best wishes for Noodle’s continued progress!

  2. Pam Naylor says:

    Feeling quite blessed to have my daughter at U.N.E. Feeling quite blessed she has the opportunity to be a part of the M.A.R.C. We fell in love with U.N.E. when we visited before her 1st year. We knew it fit her to a T. The excitement she has over her choice in Marine Biology is incredible. It is an honor to have her become part of an incredible and exciting major. To have the M.A.R.C in her “backyard” is a dream come true. She is one lucky girl. Thank you for all you do in the rehabilitation of so many creatures. Thank you for all your hard work. Thank you for the opportunity you have given my daughter. – If I were a struggling creature of the sea… at the M.A.R.C is where I would want to be.
    Kindly, Mrs. Naylor

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