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