SEAL DOING OK
Animal spent days alone on ice in Port Caledonia
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.
Erica Day of Hope for Wildlife assists a harp seal that was found alone on ice in Big Glace Bay Lake.