Rescued northern fur seal pup released back into the ocean on Or - KPTV - FOX 12

Rescued northern fur seal pup released back into the ocean on Oregon coast

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Photo: Oregon Coast Aquarium Photo: Oregon Coast Aquarium
Photo: Oregon Coast Aquarium Photo: Oregon Coast Aquarium

A northern fur seal pup found entangled in string that was cutting into its neck and abdomen was released back into the wild Wednesday on the Oregon coast.

The pup was found by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officer in an RV parking lot in Winchester Bay on Monday morning.

The string was possibly from a balloon or plastic twine. The seal was believed to have been tangled up by the string for a long period of time, because as the animal grew, it constricted and created a deep cut.

The male pup was taken to the Oregon Coast Aquarium for treatment. The injuries were determined to superficial.

After removing the entanglement and administering antibiotics and fluids for three days, it was determined the seal was safe to release back into the ocean.

"He was feisty, and his body condition was fairly strong," said Jim Burke, Oregon Coast Aquarium director of animal husbandry. "These animals are pelagic species that are used to catching their prey. This animal has probably never eaten a dead fish, let alone had one handed to him. The best option for the pup to regain strength is to get him back out in the ocean eating on his own again."

With aquarium staff watching and cheering, the pup tentatively peered out of its carrier Wednesday before heading toward the water at Quarry Cove in the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.

Once in the water, the seal appeared at ease, grooming its fur and swimming around in the protected surf. The pup eventually crossed the wave-break back into the ocean open.

Likely born in the Pribilof Islands of the Bering Sea in early summer, this northern fur seal would have been weaned from its mother in early fall, according to aquarium staff. By this time of year, it has spent multiple months at sea on its own. Jim Rice, stranding coordinator for the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network, explained that these animals, and other seals and sea lions, are not usually rehabilitated as a matter of policy.

"Most seals and sea lions in Oregon are from abundant populations. In most cases, it is felt that the best policy is to let nature takes its course," said Rice. "This is a unique situation because this animal is from a species that is not typically found on the Oregon coast and was impacted by human activities."

Anyone who finds a seal or sea lion on the beach is advised to obey marine mammal protection laws and “let nature take its course,” according to experts. Witnesses with concerns can call the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 541-270-6830.

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