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Golden Missy Goes Home (but not back to Hawaii)!

In a recorded first, a northern fur seal was found in Hawaii, thousands of miles from her natural habitat.

August 29, 2012

NEW! Video of Golden Missy's return to the ocean!

A special thank you to Amy West who provided this video footage of Golden Missy's release at Point Reyes last week! Our veterinary team has received a few "pings" from her satellite tag and it appears that she's hanging around the Channel Islands area - perfectly normal for fur seals! We'll continue to monitor her travels for the next few months so we can learn more about her. Happy travels Golden Missy!

August 23, 2012

Golden Missy Heads Home

Golden Missy Runs to the Ocean
Northern fur seal Golden Missy Runs to the Ocean on August 23, 2012. NOAA Permit # 932-1905MA-009526.
© Photo by Jimmi Johnson. The Marine Mammal Center.

After a FedEx journey from Hawaii and nearly three weeks of medical care and rehabilitation time at our hospital, Northern fur seal, Golden Missy (named in honor of Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin), went back to her ocean home this afternoon. Attached with a satellite tag, we'll be able to track her next adventure and we hope this little lost seal finally finds her way home.

Golden Missy was released at a beach in Point Reyes National Seashore along with six other successfully rehabilitated patients: California sea lions Vu, Bazingo, Lee and Teapot, and Pacific harbor seals Mucho and Griffith.

Golden Missy splashes into the Ocean.
Golden Missy splashes into the ocean on August 23, 2012. NOAA Permit # 932-1905MA-009526.
© Photo by jimmi Johnson. The Marine Mammal Center.


Golden Missy swimming out to sea on August 23, 2012.
Golden Missy swimming out to sea on August 23, 2012. NOAA Permit # 932-1905MA-009526.
© Jimmi Johnson. The Marine Mammal Center.


August 22, 2012

Our very own golden girl, GOLDEN MISSY, is going home tomorrow!

The famous fur seal found in Hawaii (thousands of miles from home!) and transported by FedEx to our hospital in Sausalito, CA was given the thumbs up today by The Marine Mammal Center’s vets to go back to the wild.

Michelle Barbieri, NMFS Conservation Medical Intern at The Marine Mammal Center, gave the following synopsis:

"Golden Missy just passed her pre-release examination and is ready for release. Because we worry about fur seals developing repetitive behaviors in captive settings (more than most other pinnipeds), we are going to proceed with immediate release. A satellite tag was attached to her today and she is scheduled for release tomorrow. She now weighs 26.5kg, up from her admit weight of 19kg, her initially high white blood cell count has resolved, and diagnostic testing thus far has not identified any infection consistent with morbillivirus. Her appetite is excellent, and she is doing a lot of swimming and grooming, which is typical fur seal behavior. On her pre-release physical, she was particularly feisty, which we really like to see!"

And... our volunteer crews also tell us she was a growler! A very good sign.

Although we've found no medical reason why Golden Missy ended up in Hawaii, we've fitted her with a satellite tag so we can monitor her movement and track her journey home - wherever that may be.

Fast Facts about Golden Missy:

Found: Oahu's North Shore, Hawaii, July 31, 2012

Arrival at The Marine Mammal Center: August 6, after a flight on FedEx

Admit weight: 19kg (underweight)

Release weight: 26.5kg

Age: 3-4 years old

Treated for: Malnutrition and 5 cm cookie cutter shark bite-like wounds (superficial).

Diagnostic Tests: No morbillivirus found (which can be life threatening to the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal!) Additional samples have been collected and will be sent out for testing for other bacterial and viral infections. Further samples have been collected and will be archived to better understand the diseases to which this species is exposed. The results of these tests do not preclude her release in California

Natural Habitats: The full range of the northern fur seal extends throughout the Pacific rim from Japan to the Channel Islands of California, although the main breeding colonies are in the Pribilof and Commander Islands in the Bering Sea.

Status: They are listed as a depleted species under the Endangered Species Act.

Golden Missy with satellite tag fitted swimming in pool at The Marine Mammal Center
Golden Missy with satellite tag fitted, swimming in the pool at The Marine Mammal Center before her release. NOAA Permit # 932-1905MA-009526
© Jeff Robinson. The Marine Mammal Center


August 13, 2012

Golden Missy is doing well but is still in quarantine away from the other patients. She's eating nearly 7 lb of herring a day and appears to love swimming around in her pool! Veterinarians are still awaiting lab results to learn if she has the moribillivirus. They also examined her for two small puncture-like wounds that appear to have come from cookie cutter sharks. The wounds appear to be healing and there is no infection in sight.

August 6, 2012

Beachgoers found the malnourished seal on a beach on Oahu's North Shore on July 31 - a first-time sighting of this species on the Hawaiian Islands, according to NOAA officials! Golden Missy, as she was nicknamed (a tribute to U.S. Olympic swimmer and 2012 London Games gold medalist Missy Franklin), was rescued by members of the Oahu Marine Mammal Rescue Network who brought the little 40.7 lb pinniped to the Honolulu Zoo for temporary care. It is not known how she ended up in Hawaii, but some officials have speculated that she was possibly carried away by strong currents, stowed away on a vessel, or even floated over on a piece of marine debris.

While we will never know how Golden Missy made that incredible journey thousands of miles away from her home (the main population of northern fur seals tend to breed and forage on the Aleutian Islands in the Bering Sea), veterinarians did know one thing - they needed to keep her away from endangered Hawaiian monk seals in case she carried any diseases that could harm that fragile group. The population of Hawaiian monk seals is decreasing by nearly 4% each year and with barely 1,100 left, a disease outbreak could literally wipe out the entire species. Northern fur seals can carry the morbillivirus, an infectious disease that can spread to other seals if not controlled, and can be fatal if not treated in time.

Golden Missy, northern fur seal, the Marine Mammal Center, Hawaii
Golden Missy sits at the edge of her pool at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito.
© The Marine Mammal Center - NOAA Permit # 932-1905 MA-009526

While our veterinarians await the results of blood, nasal and cornea tests to see if Golden Missy is indeed carrying moribillivirus or has other medical issues, she is resting comfortably in a pool away from our other patients or a lot of human activity. According to veterinarians, she's got a healthy appetite and is eating almost 6 lb of fish a day. She will most likely receive more fish as she begins to recover, grow, and gain strength. Veterinarians think she'll be at our hospital for a couple of weeks to put on some weight and build up her strength, but may need to stay longer if medical issues are discovered.

If you would like to help provide meals for Golden Missy and other pinniped patients like her, please click the donate button below, or go to our Dollar-a-Pound page to learn more.


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