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Koochooloo & His Fur Seal Friends!

Koochooloo was the first of eight northern fur seals we rescued in the fall of 2012. These teeny, tiny pinnipeds were all severely malnourished and several, like Koochooloo, stranded with tar on their fur.

February 6, 2013

The last of the 2012 northern fur seals are back in the wild! On February 2, Eggnog, Sassy Squatch, and Little Gobbler got a ride out to the Farallon Islands!

Sassy Squatch Release
Sassy Squatch prepares to take the plunge back into the ocean.
© The Marine Mammal Center

January 15, 2013

Back to the ocean!

After nearly three months of medical care at our hospital - Koochooloo is healthy and back home in the ocean! He, along with fur seals Pingasut, Savai, Sunbeam and sea lions Lil Mossy and Icicle 21, all got a free ride to the Farallon Islands courtesy of San Francisco Whale Tours and Captain Joe Nazar.

Southeast Farallon Island
It was a great day for a release in the Farallon Islands.
© The Marine Mammal Center


Click here to read Koochooloo's full story and how we were able to get him healthy.


 October 30, 2012

Koochooloo, whose name means “little one” in Persian, was rescued from Lover’s Beach in Pacific Grove on October 28th - he is our first fur seal of the fall!

Northern Fur Seal, Koochooloo, pictured after His First Feed of the Day
Koochooloo,a northern fur seal pup, stranded with tar on his fur and is significantly underweight.
© Ingrid Overgard - The Marine Mammal Center


The member of the public who alerted us to this lonely baby seal suggested the name Koochooloo. We think his name fits him well since he currently weighs only 7 kgs, a mere 1.6 kg more than the average birth weight! As a 4 to 5 month old recently weaned pup, he should weigh at least 15 kgs, more than twice what he currently weighs!

Northern Fur Seal, Koochooloo, pictured just before his first tube feeding
Northern fur seal, Koochooloo, is restrained so that volunteers can tube feed him.
© Ingrid Overgard - The Marine Mammal Center

In addition to being underweight and malnourished, Koochooloo also has tar on his belly. This is a real problem for fur seals that constantly groom themselves, as clean fur is warm fur. Also, if too much tar is ingested, it can be poisonous.

Northern Fur Seal, Koochooloo, pictured getting an exam
Koochooloo is being examined by veterinary director Dr. Shawn Johnson and veterinary technician, Sophie Guarasci.
© Ingrid Overgard - The Marine Mammal Center

The Center’s new veterinary director Dr. Shawn Johnson performed the first basic exam on Koochooloo on Monday afternoon. Dr. Johnson examined the tar on his belly, listened to his lungs to rule out any respiratory problems, measured the length of the animal, and confirmed that Koochooloo is indeed a little boy. Our veterinarians will re-examine Koochooloo later in the week to determine what the next step is in his treatment plan.

Currently, Koochooloo is receiving supportive care at our hospital in Sausalito. Part of that includes being tube-fed a special fish mash "milkshake" by volunteers 4 times a day. This feeding method guarantees that he gets all the nutrients and food he needs while he's not yet able or willing to eat whole fish.

Northern Fur Seal, Koochooloo, pictured being tube-fed
Koochooloo is not yet eating fish and so is being tube-fed a special fishmash formula that is very nutritious.
© Ingrid Overgard - The Marine Mammal Center

We are glad to say that Koochooloo had a good first day (the first 24 hours are always critical), and although Koochooloo is small, he's feisty! Our volunteers have reported that "he's a a little biter" (which is actually a good sign)!

But Koochooloo is not out of the woods yet and his road to recovery may be a long one. Never-the-less, our volunteer animal care crews and trained veterinarians will be watching him day and night, and providing all the care necessary to give him a second chance at life in the wild.


October 31, 2012

Koochooloo started eating fish today!

Picture of Northern fur seal pup, Koochooloo eating fish
Northern fur seal pup, Koochooloo eats whole fish for the first time at The Marine Mammal Center.
© Ingrid Overgard - The Marine Mammal Center

You can help feed and care for patients like Koochooloo by making a donation today!

  • $10 = 1 yummy fish-filled meal!
  • $25 = daily medical and supportive care.


November 8, 2012

Koochooloo now has a roommie!

Sunbeam is also a little northern fur seal that was rescued by the Center after volunteers received reports from a beach-goer of a sickly-looking seal at Moss Landing. Here at the hospital both Koochooloo and Sunbeam appear to enjoy swimming circles around each other as well as grooming themselves. Veterinarians are providing medical care for each and making sure that the pups voracious appetites are met! Right now, Koochooloo and Sunbeam are being fed 4 times a day! As they get older, they'll have an even bigger appetite for fish!


November 12, 2012

Little Gobbler, northern fur seal, marine mammal center
Veterinarians carefully exam a northern fur seal pup named Little Gobbler.
© Judy Armstrong - The Marine Mammal Center

Today we rescued another little northern fur seal pup who was eventually named Little Gobbler! This 6-month-old seal crossed a busy roadway and ended up on the second floor of a waste water treatment plant in Burlingame, CA. Lethargic and a bit disoriented, our rescue volunteers swooped Little Gobbler up before he got into harms way. he appears to be doing well at our hospital despite being malnourished. he makes the fourth northern fur seal patient we've taken in, in recent weeks. A special thanks to Bill Huber and the rest of Veola Water for looking out for the little guy until our crew arrived!

Meanwhile, Koochooloo is doing wonderfully and is quite the character in his pool with Sunbeam!


December 11, 2012

Koochooloo Gets a Bath!

Koochooloo tar removal

Over the last six weeks, The Marine Mammal Center has rescued eight severely malnourished northern fur seal pups. Four, including Koochooloo, stranded with tar stuck to their fur. Priority number one was to get some weight on Koochooloo and his cohorts before anything was done to remove the tar.

Koochooloo, fur seal, bath
The tar on Koochooloo’s belly is easier to see while he is under anesthesia.
© Ingrid Overgard - The Marine Mammal Center


After at month of care at The Marine Mammal Center hospital, Koochooloo gained 2 kgs (almost 4.5 lbs!) and veterinarians decided it was time to remove the tar caked on his fur. The procedure first required that Koochooloo be anesthetized.

Koochooloo, fur seal, bath
While Koochooloo is under anesthesia, Stranding Coordinators Geno DeRango (left) and Barbie Halaska (center) work on removing the tar from the fur seal’s belly using canola oil and Dawn dish washing liquid. Dr. Lorraine Barbosa (right) administers fluids while veterinary director Dr. Shawn Johnson (back) watches.
© Ingrid Overgard - The Marine Mammal Center

Following the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) protocols, Stranding Coordinators Geno DeRango and Barbie Halaska then cut samples of the oiled fur from his belly to send to the California Department of Fish and Game’s Petroleum & Chemistry Lab for archival purposes.

Koochooloo, fur seal, bath
Wearing the safety gear required when working with oiled wildlife, including nitrile gloves, safety glasses, and white Tyvek suits, Stranding Coordinators Geno DeRango (left) and Barbie Halaska (right) use Dawn dish washing liquid to remove the tar patch from Koochoolo's body.
© Ingrid Overgard - The Marine Mammal Center

Removing tar from a marine mammal patient is a fairly rare occurrence at the Center and the team appreciated the opportunity to put their OWCN training into practice while at the same time helping the animal. DeRango and Halaska used Canola oil and Dawn dishwashing liquid to remove the majority of the tar from Koochooloo while veterinary staff closely monitored him. (Learn how we've partnered with Dawn to educate and inspire future ocean stewards!)

Koochooloo, Sunbeam, Little Gobbler, Pingasut, fur seal, marine mammal center
Northern fur seals Koochooloo, Little Gobbler, Sunbeam and Pingasut get some exercise in a shared pool at The Marine Mammal Center.
© Ingrid Overgard - The Marine Mammal Center

Koochooloo did very well during the procedure and woke up hungry and feisty (good traits for a fur seal pup!) He continues to thrive and put on weight at our Sausalito Hospital. Along with Koochooloo, our seven other northern fur seal patients; Sunbeam, Savai, Little Gobbler, Pingasut, Sassy Squatch, Sparkle and Eggnog – still have a long road to recovery.



Fur seals are pelagic animals, meaning they spend the majority of their time in the open ocean and do not haul out to rest on beaches or rocks like California sea lions. On average, The Marine Mammal Center admits only about 5 fur seal pups a year, but on occasion, when food is scarce, there are more pups in need of help. In 2006 we admitted 33 fur seals, with 22 being on-site at one time. 

Click here to learn more about fur seals.


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