SEAL DO­ING OK

An­i­mal spent days alone on ice in Port Cale­do­nia

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY ERIN POTTIE

Harp seal res­cued near Glace Bay on road to re­cov­ery.

A seal that spent days alone on the ice is now tip­ping the scales at a wildlife re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre.

The male harp seal was res­cued Fri­day by lo­cal res­i­dents con­cerned for its safety.

On Satur­day, the an­i­mal pre­vi­ously thought to be a har­bour seal, was be­ing held un­der the care of Hope for Wildlife.

The wildlife team says if test­ing proves its good health, the seal will likely see a quick re­turn to the cold wa­ters of the At­lantic Ocean.

“He’s the big­gest pa­tient we’ve ever had, weight-wise,” said Hope Swin­imer, founder of the Seaforth, N.S.-based an­i­mal re­hab cen­tre.

“He tipped the scales at just over 200 pounds. He does look good. He’s a lit­tle thin, but not ex­tremely skinny in any way. He’s alert and these seals in gen­eral are very easy­go­ing.”

For that rea­son, Swin­imer said she wasn’t sur­prised that some lo­cal res­i­dents were able wran­gle it into a large pet car­rier in Port Cale­do­nia.

The wildlife team is now await­ing the re­sults of fur­ther blood work and fe­cal anal­y­sis, but it ap­pears that the seal is fine.

In Swin­imer’s ex­pe­ri­ence it’s com­mon to see the species on the beach this time of year and cau­tioned wildlife view­ers about be­com­ing upset by the sight of a lethar­gic seal.

“They’re semi-aquatic, so they en­joy time out of the wa­ter to rest … and they’re usu­ally pretty tired, so they might just spend a week just rest­ing on the ice or the shore­line.”

Based on past ex­pe­ri­ences with seals un­der Hope for Wildlife’s care, an X-ray was com­pleted to ex­am­ine whether the seal might have any rocks in his stom­ach.

Swin­imer said last three grey seals that ar­rived had rocks in their bel­lies, which is caus­ing some con­cern.

“Dogs will do the same thing when they’re lack­ing cer­tain nu­tri­tion,” said Swin­imer.

“We’re go­ing to be re­ally dig­ging into that and see if we can get some an­swers to those ques­tions. That’s what I love about what we do, there’s so much sci­ence in it and we learn ev­ery day.”

An­i­mal res­cuer Sasha Stub­bert of Syd­ney Mines said she and a friend helped res­cue the seal on Satur­day.

Stub­bert slipped on a sur­vival suit and headed out on the ice with 200 feet of rope and a lo­cal fire­fighter keep­ing watch over the sit­u­a­tion.

“It wasn’t some­thing that we did with­out be­ing very cal­cu­lat­ing about it,” Stub­bert said.

“You take a chance, there’s no ques­tion, but that seal was there a week.”

Stub­bert said the seal ap­peared weak, had crust­ing around its eyes and there were signs of blood in its stool.

Stub­bert says she’s helped about a dozen seals in the last year by re­lo­cat­ing them back to open wa­ter.

In one case, a stranded seal was found near the high­way after be­ing struck by a ve­hi­cle.

That an­i­mal was also sent to Hope for Wildlife for treat­ment.

CON­TRIB­UTED

Erica Day of Hope for Wildlife as­sists a harp seal that was found alone on ice in Big Glace Bay Lake.

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