Agaptimoss, a harbor seal pup, got his unusual name from his rescue location, which was on Monterey Bay, in between Aptos and Moss Landing. He was found alone on the beach, in an area that is popular with people and dogs. He was observed to be weak and emaciated, with watery eyes, a possible indication of vision problems. Upon examination at the Center, Agaptimoss was found to have cataracts and to be blind in one eye.
It is possible that Agaptimoss was born with the cataracts, or they may have been caused by an in utero infection. Veterinarians at the Center were concerned that he would not be able to fend for himself in the wild and it was uncertain whether he would be released or not. But Agaptimoss proved the doubters wrong and quickly learned to find fish in his pool. His vision problems resulted in a sensitivity to light and he demonstrated a preference for finding fish in the darker depths of the pool.
In order to teach Agaptimoss how to forage and fend for himself in the wild, The Marine Mammal Center enlisted the help of the UC Davis bio-engineering lab to build an “enrichment box.” This small box was designed to stimulate a seal’s natural curiosity and aptitude to search for food.
The enrichment box was filled with fish and placed at the bottom of the pool, encouraging Agaptimoss to dive and hold his breath while he hunted. The box also had a cover that closed by itself as soon as a fish was taken out and the animal moved away, requiring Agaptimoss to make an effort every time he wanted a fish. Agaptimoss learned quickly how to get the fish from the box, demonstrating that he could survive in the wild on his own.
Agaptimoss was a great success story for The Marine Mammal Center, but he became even more famous when his story was covered in Wired Magazine. Into the Wild: Tracking Rescued Harbor Seal Pups’ Return to the Ocean is the story of "the most wired seal in the world."
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