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Don Lewis, Massachusetts Audubon Society,
Fox Island Wildlife Management Area

Stranded Harp Seal in Fresh Brook Marsh
— 23 January 2001 (morning)

Last night’s high tide brought an ailing harp juvenile seal into the Fresh Brook marsh northeast of Doctors Hill.

Seemingly well nourished, this pup was nonetheless unresponsive to my approach.  Blood traces were observed in each location where the seal had moved across the snow covered marsh.  Closer examination revealed no wounds; the blood had exuded from the mouth.  Small amounts of whitish fluid gurgled from the nostrils.

Doctor John Kelly of Eastham was gracious enough to evaluate this seal at his animal hospital; he decided that it was not so far gone as to be euthanized.  At the request of the Mammal Stranding Network, he administered 200 milliliters of nutrient solution by stomach tube.  Encountering some initial resistance, Dr. Kelly x-rayed the seal, but found no blockage.

After treatment, this harp seal was returned to the salt marsh near where it was spotted this morning.  The original location is frequented by coyotes, foraging at low tides, and the channels in Fresh Brook do not provide easy access back to the bay.  The seal now rests on the banks of Black Duck Creek several hundred yards southwest of the Lieutenant Island Bridge.  We’ll check on her overnight progress in the morning.