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Helping Seals Overseas

Lending a Helping Hand to Seals in the Netherlands


While The Marine Mammal Center had a record-breaking year of animal rescue and rehabilitation in 2009 (more than 1,600 rescued – nearly three times the Center’s average) staff and volunteers continue to provide their expertise in animal care around the globe. For instance, we currently work with Hawaiian monk sealsto help conserve that endangered species, and we’ve provided assistance in helping Mediterranean monk seals. Recently, the Seal Rehabilitation and Research Centre in the Netherlands requested our assistance in helping to care for more than 170 common seal patients at its facility. Our expertise in animal husbandry of elephant and harbor seals, allows us to lend a helping hand to other similar species of marine mammals.

Stan to the rescue!
Long-time animal-care volunteer, Stan Jensen from the Center’s Tuesday Day Crew, was flown out to the hospital by SRRC on December 13 for three weeks. He worked daily to care for the Common Seals which are really Phoca vitulina - similar to our Pacific harbor seals. At one point Jensen was in charge of caring for 14 seals including two grey seal pups. Upon rescue, the seals weigh around 20 Kg at admission and will double in size by the time they leave the hospital in about 2-3 months. Most of the seals have lungworms and are being treated with Panacur and Ivermectin along with other anti-parasite drugs.

Jensen says the SRRC reminds him of the Center in many ways before the rebuild of the Sausalito headquarters. The organization, which has been around 36 years, is using Quonset huts and shipping containers for buildings, and using bathtubs, Jacuzzi tubs, and even the volunteers' shower stalls to house the seals.

Overcoming obstacles.
So, what are the challenges care for seals in below freezing temperatures? "The lack of space and trained people are the biggest obstacles," says Jensen. “Their facility is designed to handle 40-45 animals at this time of year and they've had to house new arrivals indoors in bathtubs, showers, corridors, etc. It takes them weeks to get a person trained to be a "feeder' (someone who can restrain, tube and force feed) and some days we have only five people (including myself) to deal with the 50-60 animals who need that skill.”

Continued assistance
SRRC is flying another volunteer from the Center - Karen Bosko –-to take over where Stan left off for another 3-4 weeks. To learn more about SRRC click here.

To learn how you can get involved at The Marine Mammal Center, click here.

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