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Fortissima - Home for the Holidays!

Fortissima was the first northern elephant seal pup we admitted in 2013. Since she was released back to the wild in May, she has been spotted twice, looking strong and healthy!

December 9, 2013

Fortissima hauls out on Treasure Island, San Francisco, August 31, 2013.
© Dave Sandusky

Fortissima was spotted hanging out at Treasure Island in August and again on Año Nuevo Island at the end of October - both times she was looking healthy and strong!

Fortissima arrived at our hospital on Jan 28, 2013, and after four months of fishshakes, fish school and dedicated medical care, she was released back to the wild! By our calculations, that means that elephant seal pupping season is just around the corner! Help us get a head start and make a donation to help pups like Fortissima get a second chance at life!

  • $10 -  buys 1 fishshake
  • $25  - buys 25 lbs of fish - great for all of our patients!
  • $50  - buys a full day of fishshakes for a pup like Fortissima
  • $75  - buys meals and meds for a seal pup for a day
  • $100  - buys an admit exam for a seal
  • $250  - buys a x-ray for an injured seal
  • $525  - provides meals, meds (and miracles) for a whole week for a pup!


May 29, 2013

Fortissima, days before her return to the ocean.
© Ingrid Overgard - The Marine Mammal Center

Fortissima, along with elephant seals Cal Bunny, Dahlio and Bella Mundo, are back in the ocean. All were released at Point Reyes National Seashore today, May 29, after receiving a clean bill of health form veterinarians. Click here to see a list of some of our recent patients that have been released back to the wild!


May 20, 2013

Fortissima hangs out with another elephant seal named Malibu on May 20, 2013. Soon, both will go back to the ocean.
© The Marine Mammal Center

Fortissima is doing wonderfully thanks to the care of so many volunteers and staff, as well as your support during our Dollar-a-Pound campaign! She's doubled in size since we first admitted her at the end of January and now weighs almost 130 pounds. Veterinarians will give her a release exam next week, and if all is well, she could be swimming in the ocean very soon!


February 28, 2013

You can hear Fortissima when you visit The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, Ca.
© Ingrid Overgard - The Marine Mammal Center

After three weeks of care at our hospital, Fortissima is looking much better than when she rescued after being found alone on the beach. She is being tube-fed fish shakes three times a day and starting to gain some weight. As you can see in the photo, she is shedding her black coat of fur, a completely normal process for baby elephant seals. Fortissima has a long way to go before she will be ready to be released back to her ocean home. If you would like to help her, you can make a donation to The Marine Mammal Center. 


February 6, 2013

Fortissima is a young elephant seal pup. Here, she is sporting her black coat which is her birth coat.
© Ingrid Overgard - The Marine Mammal Center

Lying alone on RCA beach north of Bolinas, this elephant seal pup was very lucky that a good Samaritan was doing her own beach cleanup when she stumbled upon this month-old elephant seal pup. Separated from her mother before she was weaned, Fortissima, as she was later named, was in real trouble. If this concerned citizen had not called The Marine Mammal Center to report a stranded elephant seal pup on this remote beach, Fortissima would likely not be alive today.

Rescuers from The Marine Mammal Center had their work cut out for them! It was an hour-long walk from the nearest access point to reach Fortissima and they did it carrying a large dog carrier and a sled. Once they reached her, it was relatively easy to get her into the carrier but then the real work of dragging the carrier with an 83 lb pup in an old U.S. Army sled began! It took them another hour to get back to the truck.

The easiest way to transport an elephant seal pup from one pen to another is by wheelbarrow.
© Ingrid Overgard - The Marine Mammal Center

When Fortissima arrived at the Center on January 28, 2013, her eyes were gummy indicating that she was dehydrated, and she had some scrapes on her face. She was also malnourished. Elephant seals are born with a black coat of fur, which is molted or shed about the time that they wean, around 28 days after birth. Fortissima still had her full black coat of fur when she was rescued and her teeth were just barely beginning to break through. She was immediately given fluids and started on a special formula designed for elephant seal pups. Volunteers at the Center will continue to tube feed her until she is stronger and ready to learn to eat fish.

Got milk? Fortissima pictured after her fish smoothie.
© Ingrid Overgard - The Marine Mammal Center

When our veterinarians examined her they found 7 to 8 small puncture wounds on her hindquarters, most likely from a dog bite or bites. To prevent infection she was given a course of antibiotics. A week later, the wounds are healing nicely, and she is starting to look much better! Fortissima will be with us for a while as gets stronger so check back here often for updates.


Learn more about elephant seals and hear what they sound like!

Learn about our Leave Seals Be campaign!

Download a pocket rescue card so you can call in a rescue!


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