New Patient – “Sno-Cap”

Yesterday afternoon, the MARC hotline rang.  This is the phone that our friends at organizations like Marine Mammals of Maine, New England Aquarium, Allied Whale, or IFAW (just to name a few) give us a call on when they’re checking out an animal possibly in need of rehabilitation.  The phone rings.  We answer.  And we discuss whether there’s currently space and resources at MARC to house a new patient.  All things are considered, such as species, size and any ailments that animal is suffering.

Yesterday, this particular call came from Marine Mammals of Maine – who responds to animals in the Southern region of the state – from Rockland to the New Hampshire State line.  They were sending a volunteer, Bill, to check what sounded like a harp seal on Wells Beach.  The seal had some crusty eye discharge, uncomfortable posturing, and was shaking a bit – all signals that can tell us that an animal might not be feeling well.  So, he was collected and transported to MARC for care.

Meet “Sno-Cap” – named for his arrival after the 2013 Blizzard.

Sno-Cap arrives at UNE/MARC

Snow-Cap was delivered to us by Marine Mammals of Maine Volunteer, Bill.  Once onsite, Sno-Cap was weighed and then placed in an isolation room for exam.

MMOME Volunteer, Bill, assists with Sno-Cap Exam

Bill was happy to help us out with the exam.  He restrained Sno-Cap while our technician, Asheley, looked over the seal.  We took a quick body temperature (which was slightly elevated), a blood sample (which indicated some possible infection and severe dehydration) and checked over the animal inch by inch.  We discovered some cuts and scrapes and some minor alopecia (hair loss).

Asheley and Bill prepare to give oral fluids

Harp seals are notorious for suffering from severe dehydration, so we wanted to quickly start Sno-Cap on some fluid therapy, which included oral tubings, IV fluids, and stock-piling his room with a nice pile of ice to chew on (we like to let the seals naturally rehydrate when possible).

Checking to make sure Sno-Cap is breathing, once the feeding tube has been inserted, by feeling for breath on the forearm. It's one of three safety checks we perform before feeding the animals.

Because Harp seals also commonly eat rocks and sand and the rocks/sand cause blockages of the digestive system, we snapped a quick radiograph of Sno-Cap’s abdomen to see if he had any impactions.  Luckily, he was free of sand/rocks – good news!

When seals are calm, like Sno-Cap, we do our best to radiograph without the added stress of handling. Sno-Cap was fairly mellow, and we were able to snap a quick x-ray of his abdomen.

The good news:  After a night of fluids (staff and volunteers gave Sno-Cap a few oral tubings of electrolytes) and rest, Sno-Cap is already looking improved.  Blood values are starting to normalize today and he’s looking happier.  We’ll hopefully have him swimming and eating some fish soon!

Thanks to Marine Mammals of Maine, as always, for making sure Sno-Cap made it to MARC!


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