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Harbor Seal Rescued from Palo Alto Waterway

It's been two decades since The Marine Mammal Center has admitted a harbor seal from Palo Alto.


April 29, 2013

Sad news to report today; Floodgate Dolly died. Veterinarians performed a necropsy on him and the preliminary cause of death appears to be a lung infection.

April 12, 2013

Veterinarians give Floodgate Dolly a physical exam.
© Stan Jensen - The Marine Mammal Center

Floodgate Dolly is a boy! Veterinarians gave the little harbor seal pup - the smallest harbor seal at the hospital right now - a physical exam on Thursday and learned that "she" is really a "he." While he is much smaller than he should be, and is dehydrated, veterinary staff and volunteers are making sure he gets all the nutrition he needs to grow strong and healthier. This includes an around-the-clock strict regiment of harbor seal formula fed to him five times a day.

Dollar-a-Pound campaign update April 18, 2013:

Thanks to donors like you, we met the $10,000 match from the Waitt Foundation! Your gifts and their match will really help feed our patients, but our work is not done yet. With more animals rescued this year to date than any previous year in our history, we still need your help! We now have 175+ patients onsite (40 more than when we last updated you!) and the harbor seal pupping season is not yet in full swing!

In order to give all of our patients the best chance at surviving in the wild, each animal needs to get bigger and stronger, and as our pups grow so do their appetites! Our hungry pups are eating 4,000 lbs of fish per week and our food bill is now estimated to be $150,000 – double our original estimate because we are projected to have double the number of patients. Double the patients = double the food! Please can you help and give a starving seal a meal?

Help Us Raise $150,000 to Feed Our Patients!

$10 = 1 Fish Smoothie!


April 10, 2013

An animal care volunteer prepares to feed Floodgate Doll using a tube filled with a special harbor seal formula.
© Sunny McKee - The Marine Mammal Center

This little harbor seal, named Floodgate Dolly, was found by Palo Alto animal care officers on Tuesday. The Palo Alto Daily News reports that a city employee found the seal "bobbing near the tide gate to Mayfield Slough" and along with another employee, used a net to scoop up the distressed pinniped. They brought Floodgate Dolly to the Wildlife Care Center in Palo Alto for safekeeping and notified rescuers at The Marine Mammal Center. The last time the Center admitted a harbor seal pup from Palo Alto was in 1991!

The seal was brought to our hospital in the late afternoon and has been resting in a quiet ICU unit alongside another harbor seal pup named Bogey. Floodgate Dolly weighs approximately 14 lb - almost half the weight a harbor seal pup should weigh this time of year.  Because Floodgate Dolly is weak and not able to eat whole fish just yet, volunteers have been tube feeding the seal pup 4-5 times a day, alternating between electrolytes and a special shake made from  high fat milk protein powder containing low levels of lactose and fortified with vitamins and minerals, fish oil, and water. This formula is used as a replacement for mother's milk, which can be 30 to 60% fat. Pups at this stage are fed every four hours from 8 a.m. to midnight.

It's not entirely uncommon for harbor seals to be seen in the area where Floodgate Dolly was found. There are harbor seal haul-outs in the Palo Alto and Newark regions and rescuers believe the seal pup may have come from one of those waterways located directly across from the Mayfield Slough.

A reminder for when you come across a sick, injured or abandoned seal pup like Floodgate Dolly, or other marine mammal, please don't pick the animal up or disturb the animal. Instead, give The Marine Mammal Center a call at (415) 289-7325.



Learn about harbor seals

Learn about the types and kinds of food our patients receive

Learn about our Leave Seals Be campaign!

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