[MARMAM] Rehabilitation advice on adult male harbour seal

ISS volunteers vols.iss at gmail.com
Wed Oct 28 12:44:02 PDT 2009

Rehabilitation advice on adult male harbour seal

 We at the Irish Seal Sanctuary (www.irishsealsanctuary.ie), a centre that
provides shelter, treatment and rehabilitation for marine wildlife found in
distress on Ireland's coastline, are seeking help within the MARMAM
community with a male harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) come to be known as

Benny came to the sanctuary for the first time on the 18th July 2008. He
would have been approximately 1 yr old, 4ft long and 27.5kg. He was
rehabilitated and released on 16th August 2008. On the 21st September 2008
he was re-admitted.

We had a case similar to Benny back in 2006 with a seal that was released 3
times unsuccessfully. Both that seal and Benny came from the same location
in Ireland, and both have an unusually puffy face/head. Some veterinarians
have hinted towards hydrocephalus, but unfortunately without access to an
MRI this cannot be confirmed. The 2006 seal was eventually passed on to an
Irish wildlife park, where he remains today. We tried to re-home Benny last
year but could not find anyone willing to take him on. We decided to keep
him in our pools. He thrived there until this summer.

In late July 2009, we noticed he had many skin lesions and abscesses on his
flippers and body. He was lethargic and remained outside of the water most
of the time. We treated him with Sinulox and alamycin and the suggested
cause was depression. After treatment, the abscesses disappeared, the
lesions improved.

In early August the first new pups were put up in the pool with him. Benny
remained lethargic, disinterested and his appetite was poor. After pushing
him in the water, he just bobbed there, floating for a few days without
eating. We then decided to bring him back down to a kennel for better
observation. In the kennel we noticed that he floats twisted to one side. He
has regained his appetite but is extremely uncoordinated. Out of the water,
he can longer displace himself. Half his body seems almost paralyzed.

Recently we moved him into a deeper pool. Here we noticed, more than just
being uncoordinated, Benny can no longer even swim down deeper than half a

We were thinking perhaps he has had a stroke. We have had his blood and
faeces tested, neither showed any abnormalities. Our consulting
veterinarians are at a loss as to what is wrong with him.

All of us at the sanctuary fear there is little else we can provide for
Benny's welfare. We are desperately seeking out any further treatments which
may enable Benny to regain the quality of life he had before July.

If anyone in the MARMAM community has any experience with this type of
condition or recommendations, we remain very eager to hear them. Please
email any responses to vols.iss at gmail.com

Laura O’Shaughnessy-Hunter
Assistant Animal Manager

The Irish Seal Sanctuary
An Clochan, Tobergregan
Garristown, Co. Dublin
+353 (01) 835 4370
vols.iss at gmail.com
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