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Zoo ‘cautiously optimistic’ over juvenile seal found on beach

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A juvenile grey seal, found at Clearwater Beach, St David’s, on Saturday, is being nursed back to health with the help of volunteers at the Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo (Photograph supplied)

A juvenile grey seal found at the weekend is slowly recovering in care, the curator of the Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo said yesterday.

Ian Walker said that he was “cautiously optimistic” about the seal, which was taken in on Saturday after being found by a passer-by on Clearwater Beach in St David’s.

Dr Walker said that the seal was in a critical but stable condition and would be monitored for one to three weeks for infection and parasites.

He added: “It is an extremely young animal, and so what we see often in these animals is they go through a stressful experience like it just did and it uses up quite a lot of its internal reserves and it’s exhausted.

A juvenile grey seal, found at Clearwater Beach, St David’s, on Saturday is being nursed back to health with the help of volunteers at the Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo (Photograph supplied)

“The next 48 to 72 hours is pretty critical, and if he continues to do well through that period of time, then I am certainly cautiously optimistic.”

The seal was taken to a quarantine facility on Saturday after a passer-by found him at daybreak that day.

Dr Walker said the seal, which is about five weeks old, likely got separated from his mother shortly after weaning and probably came to Bermuda after getting caught in the Gulf Stream.

He said that when and where he got separated, as well as why, is “a story we will never know”.

Blood tests showed that the grey seal was exhausted and moderately dehydrated, and elevated white blood cells suggested infection or high levels of stress.

Dr Walker said that the seal could not yet be tested for parasites, but he seemed to have an infection in one eye that could be spreading to the other.

But he added that, despite everything he had been through, the seal was in better condition than expected, indicating that he was not lost at sea for a very long time.

Dr Walker also said: “He is starting to eat and is now on a regimen of eating three to four times a day.

“We’re going to be using trusted volunteers, so people who have worked with us before with these animals, and our regular staff to make this happen.”

Dr Walker said that once the seal was nursed back to health, it would be taken to the United States and released into the wild.

He added that the grey seal has not been named so that his caretakers can avoid bonding with him, which would make it difficult to release him back to the wild or in case he did not survive.

Despite this, Dr Walker said: “Ruby, the woman who found the seal initially, has suggested a name and there are a few other people who have also suggested a name, so at the end of the day we’ll take it into consideration.”

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Published February 21, 2023 at 7:54 am (Updated February 21, 2023 at 8:21 am)

Zoo ‘cautiously optimistic’ over juvenile seal found on beach

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