A Porpoise in Life – Meet Noodle!

October 19th, 2012 by Shannon

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.

TWO Seal Releases – Sat 10/13 and Sun 10/14!!!!!

October 12th, 2012 by Shannon

We have so many healthy weanlings ready to head back to sea!!!!  We are doubling up the fun and hosting TWO seal releases this weekend.  Join us both Saturday 10/13/2012 and Sunday 10/14/2012 to say goodbye to SEVEN of our flippered friends!

Date:  Saturday, October 13, 2012 (Rain or  Shine)
Who?  Maultasche, Maltagliati, Carbonara and Marille

Date: Sunday, October 14, 2012 (Rain or  Shine)
Who?  Vermicelli, , Orzo and Acini di pepe

Kennel Door Opens at:  11:30 am
(Be there early!) on both Saturday and Sunday
Blubber Hits the Water at:  ~11:31 am
(Blink and you’ll miss it)

Location:  Gilbert Place, on Biddeford Pool, Biddeford, Maine (as you enter Gilbert Place, veer to the left for public parking) Get Directions  Please drive carefully, mind speed limits and be respectful of the neighbors.  Thanks!

What to Bring:

  • Cameras
  • Good Vibes
  • Donations for the MARC program – Every dollar helps!

Thanks to our 2012 Frolic for Flippers 5K Sponsors!!!

UNE/MARC is a 501 (c) (3) not for profit organization that operates the only Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle rehabilitation program in Maine.  Each year MARC treats nearly 100 animals.  You can adopt a seal by calling 207-221-4228.  For information about UNE/MARC, to adopt an animal or to become a member, please visit us on the web at www.une.edu/marc, or call us at 207-221-4228.

Your Friday Pupdate!

July 6th, 2012 by Shannon

We’ve been so busy caring for our 21 harbor seal pups and weanlings (+2 grey seals) that we’re just now catching our breath to send a big update!  The pups started arriving early in May with the arrival of Wiggle who was assessed and collected by the College of the Atlantic/Allied Whale.  Here we are a solid 2 months later and the pups (now called weanlings) are still coming in from surrounding beaches.   Here’s an update on a few notable pups.

Wiggle and Alfabeto getting cozy

Wiggle - The original 2012 pup.  Wiggle’s name originated from the naming contest hosted by the Maine Mall.  Just a few days old at arrival, Wiggle has been the star of many “firsts” this year :  First to arrive at MARC, first to eat fish on her own, and hopefully, first to be scheduled for release.  After an early battle with a urinary tract infection and umbilical infection, Wiggle has been in good health and gaining weight for several weeks.  She is very sweet and enjoys hanging around in the pool.

Wiggle eating her herring breakfast

Alfabeto- This pup arrived May 6 after she was found hanging out in South Thomaston with no mother in sight.   She been doing really well, eating GREAT, and holds the title as the largest pup at MARC to date:  21.8 kg (48 lbs).  Can you believe she was only 16 lbs just 8 weeks ago??

Alfabeto lounging in a kiddie pool at MARC

Gnocchi- The first male pup to arrive at MARC this year (on May 12) and hailing from Westport Island, Maine.  Though he hasn’t had the easiest time learning to eat fish, we are proud to say that over the last few days, he has started to eat fish in a very shallow pool.  This is a HUGE milestone for any pup onsite and he should be feeding in the deep pools very soon.

Gnocchi resting between meals

Ditalini- Remember the peanut that came to us on May 19 from Matinic Island?  This pup barely made a dent on the scale at an astonishing 5.4 kg (12 lbs.).  Though we were very nervous that he might have some battles to deal with at such a small size… he has been amazingly strong and impressive…and was even one of the first animals to wean onto fish.  Over the past few weeks, he has put on about 23 lbs and is nearly unrecognizable!

No wonder he's grown... Ditalini is always begging for food.

Manicotti- Arrived on May 20 from Port Clyde.  He’s been doing really well and coasts under the radar most days at this point, but early in his rehabilitation at MARC, he did have some pretty extensive respiratory issues that kept him in fits of coughing and sneezing for most of the days.  Now, he’s in the clear, gaining weight and eating a healthy diet of fish.

Manicotti resting poolside

Spaghetti- This little lady joined us on May 1 this year, along with her pal Meatball (see below).  She’s currently dealing with a few infections, but has a feisty attitude and always entertains the volunteers…. Most notably always seen in some sort of wet noodle posture, suckling on her own hip… quite fitting when you’re named Spaghetti.

Spaghetti. Doing what she does.

Meatball-   This guy from Georgetown, Maine was named because of his striking dark coat and chunky size… closely resembling a hefty meatball.  He had been doing fairly well until about a week ago when extreme facial swelling and lethargy started taking over.  Over the course of the week, he has been closely monitored, supplemented with fluids and antibiotics.  He’s not quite in the clear yet, and oftentimes, like with Meatball, it can be extremely difficult to determine the cause of a health decline.  We have our fingers crossed that he is over the worst of things, but only time will tell.

Meatball snoozing in the pool

We’ll have more animal updates this week… as we continue to make progress on their cases.  Two more animals arrived at MARC in the hour we were writing this blog…so  stay tuned for more updates on all of the cases!


Save.the.Date – Seal Release 04.01.12

March 26th, 2012 by Shannon

Ever wonder what happens when you add pasta to salt water?  Well, join us to find out!  This Sunday, we will be sending 3 of our noodle-named seals back to sea.

Rigatoni and Capelli playing in the pool

Date:  Sunday, April 1, 2012 (Rain, Snow or Shine… fingers crossed for sunshine, though!)
Who?  Capelli d’Angelo, Rigatoni, Fettuccine*
(*subject to change)
Kennel Door Opens at:  10:00 am
(Be there early!)
Blubber Hits the Water at:  ~10:01 am
(Blink and you’ll miss it)
  Gilbert Place, on Biddeford Pool, Biddeford, Maine (as you enter Gilbert Place, veer to the left for public parking)Get Directions  Please drive carefully, mind speed limits and be respectful of the neighbors.  Thanks!

What to Bring:

  • Cameras
  • Good Vibes
  • $1 donation (Just $1 buys a pound of food for our seals)
  • All encouraged but not required.

UNE/MARC is a 501 (c) (3) not for profit organization that operates the only Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle rehabilitation program in Maine.  Last year the MARC treated over 90 seals.  We are currently preparing for Harbor Seal pupping season- our busiest time of year!!!  You can sponsor a seal by calling 207-221-4228, and donating today.  For information about UNE/MARC, to adopt an animal or to become a member, please visit us on the web at www.une.edu/marc, or call us at 207-221-4228.

MARC Merchandise and Clynk bags will be available at the release! Special Prices on t-shirts, sweatshirts and sweatpants!!! Come stop by the tent and visit!!! Cash or Checks only please!

Watch the latest movie about one of our past patients, just for fun:


Love Alfredo?

March 24th, 2012 by Shannon

Alfredo sauce was created in Rome in 1914 by Chef Alfredo di Lielo to feed his pregnant wife when she was having difficulty keeping food down.  Our Alfredo arrived at MARC last night after it was found on a nearby beach (Bath House Beach, Biddeford, ME) looking quite lethargic and skinny.  When he arrived at MARC, Alfredo appeared to be in a great deal of pain, which we assumed to be issues with the stomach.  He was straining quite a bit and posturing in what are considered to be uncomfortable positions.

Alfredo at Admit - Tired, skinny, and uncomfortable*

Male grey seals are typically dark with light colored spots, while females are light with darker spots.  His coat has an unusual pigment – it appears mostly darker (like a male coat) but the belly, and shoulders are slightly lighter (like a female coat).

Capelli (female) has typical light coat with dark spots and Rigatoni (male)(top right) dark coat with lighter spots**

It wasn’t until closely examining Alfredo that we discovered that something was missing – his penile opening – and to our surprise…. Alfredo is actually a female! 

There were some reports by onlookers on the beach that Alfredo had been munching on a bird carcass laying near her.  This morning, when we arrived, we found nearly an entire bird mixed in with Alfredo’s feces – feathers, bones, even a whole heart.  And so, the name Alfredo, derived from a meal intended to soothe a sore belly, is quite suitable to our seal with an upset stomach.  Though it’s not uncommon for grey seals to have a varied diet, we hope that the fish we can offer Alfredo will be a bit easier to digest than the more feathered meals she was interested in.

Grey seals in the western North Atlantic are born between late December and early February.  The females are typically 15-16 kg at birth (~34 lbs) and put on quite a bit more during the nursing process.  Though Alfredo is a month or two old, she is a mere 19 kg (41 lbs)…not considered a healthy weight for a weaned pup.  We hope that with some time at MARC, Alfredo will acquire a nice blubber layer and gain some basic survival and foraging skills that will suit her when her release time comes.  Today, she already has more energy and is trying to pick up and eat fish on her own.

Alfredo this afternoon*

Consider contributing to the rehabilitation of Alfredo.  MARC seals can be adopted at website.

*Photos by Kylie Galliani
**Photos by Samantha Burgie