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

Sad Update on the Ailing Harp Seal — 25 January 2001

The juvenile harp seal found ailing in the Fresh Brook marsh on Tuesday morning, and returned to the marsh after emergency treatment Tuesday evening, died overnight.  When I checked her Wednesday morning, her body had just entered rigor.

The necropsy performed by the Mammal Stranding Network revealed an impaction of the tail end of the stomach with sand and worms.  The middle of the intestines was impacted with 2.5 feet of sand, and the end of the intestines was obstructed with black, dry, sandy feces ... about a foot long.  For some reason, the animal kept eating sand rather than snow.

Another harp seal pup, this one quite healthy and active, turned up in Fresh Brook this morning.  Quite an exceptional year for harp seals in the Land of Ooze.