This weaned female elephant seal pup came ashore at a packed RV park and campground over the very busy Memorial Day weekend in Ocean Shores, WA. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife marine mammal investigations unit volunteers quickly responded and were able to provide educational information, set a perimeter around the seal, and with the help of campers on the beach, keep watch over the seal until the next morning.
A WDFW biologist arrived the next morning to conduct a health assessment and determine the best option for this pup. Upon examination, it was found to be very emaciated, dehydrated, and in poor health. It was determined that the animal’s best chance of survival was to be taken in for rehabilitation.
SR3 was called upon to assist with critical medical care in our wildlife emergency response ambulance for part of the pup’s 10-hour journey to Wolf Hollow Rehabilitation Center on San Juan Island. Over the next several weeks the pup will receive essential nutrition and medical care with the goal of returning her to the wild. Wolf Hollow cares for hundreds of terrestrial animals each spring and a number of harbor seal pups, however, this is an unusual patient that they have graciously made space for during a very busy time.
This response is an excellent example of collaborative efforts among the stranding network groups to provide the best possible care for this pup. However, the long journey and lack of a facility specifically designed to care for the unique needs of large marine animals is less than ideal. SR3 is working hard to build Washington’s first rehabilitation facility exclusively for marine wildlife.
There has been an unusual number of elephant seals coming ashore in WA and CA. Please remember to call the NOAA marine mammal stranding network hotline at 1-866-767-6114 to report sick, injured or orphaned marine animals.