(Photo by Robin Lindsey)
Our roundup of 2011’s top West Seattle wildlife news included the record year reported by Seal Sitters – more than 50 seal pups on area beaches. Seal Sitters‘ first responder Robin Lindsey has a sad update today about one that they had been watching recently, and what they discovered about his death:
At 9 pm Christmas Eve, the hotline received a report of a pup sleeping on the beach. Instead, it was a dead pup who was identified as our little seal nicknamed Frosty. Having entertained quite a number of onlookers on Saturday, Frosty returned to the sound around 6 pm and we fully expected to see him the following morning. He had been alert without any notable indication of health concerns. We were shocked and saddened to find him dead that night.
The necropsy revealed a parasitic infestation in his lungs and trachea complicated with pneumonia and bacterial infection – a common and often deadly combination that weaned pups face. Except for one coughing spell over the course of three days, Frosty did not give any reason to believe he was in such compromised health. There is a more in-depth blog post on blubberblog about the findings, as well as a discussion of why these “weaners” are so at risk. With only a 50% survival rate the first year, they desperately need safe haven on shore. The work that the marine mammal stranding network does is often challenging – with much heartbreak that is, thankfully, counterbalanced with much reward – as we help this newest generation of pups get the best chance they can, not only to survive, but to thrive under our community’s protective watch.
There is something you can do about the runoff problem mentioned in Robin’s full update – Sustainable West Seattle’s “Tox-Ick” website has some simple advice, for starters.