Monday, September 24, 2007


The disconnectedness I am referring to is not in regards to most things in my life right now, which I have been feeling and which has kept me from posting to this blog for a month (Sorry about that!), but it IS in reference to the seals we have this year. And I am not really sure why that is. I mean, look at 'em all.

Cute...right? Yet I haven't bonded with a single one this year. In all the past years there have been one or two that I have felt a connection to...and a strong one at that. Not this year. Maybe it's because we weren't weighing them on Saturday this year. For the first time since I have been 3 year anniversary with WH was last week...we didn't weigh the seals during my watch, hence me not really having to be able to identify who is who. So, with that and the end of summer having come and gone, I find myself releasing seals that I don't even know. It's kinda weird.

Having said that, let's get to our first seal release of the season! Penny, our staff rehabber that started last year, got to partake of her first seal release. And that means, since she needed to learn all the down and dirty bits of seal releases, she had to don those oh-so-attractive seal poop pants,
as she likes to calls them!

There's Penny on the right, with Shona, our Educational Coordinator extraordinaire, peeking out from behind Jen (Miss you Jen!), her assistant for the summer. We can be a pretty goofy bunch when we want to!

Another change this year is that, due to the fact that the flipper tags can accidentally get caught on the nets during the weighing process, we are inserting them on the day of release. And I want to tell you folks, this process makes me cringe every time I see it. Now, the tags are sharp enough that you could just punch them through without having to make an initial hole. But, because we are participating in a DNA study of Harbor seals, we must be able to get a tissue sample. So, out comes the leather hole punch.

Ugh! The sound this makes is REALLY gross and it is NOT, even though someone tried to convince me of this, like a human getting their ears pierced. I must say, that after watching Serena do this once, Penny jumped in and did a great job, getting this done as efficiently as possible. The little round of flipper that is punched out is what we send into the DNA study folks. At this point, ice and styptic powder is applied to the flipper to stop the bleeding.

Now, years ago I worked in pet store and had to use styptic powder to stop the bleeding of a bird's toe that another bird had bitten off. It looked painful and the bird certainly made a huge fuss upon me applying this stuff, so I decided to try it out so I could see what it felt like. I used it on this cut I had gotten a bit earlier in the day and I tell you what folks, it burned like a....well, I think you get where I am going with this. This can NOT feel good to the seal, but it's the quickest way, along with ice and pressure, to get the bleeding stopped. I actually started channeling my Dad during this, as I found myself looking at the seal and thinking "The pain is's peaking...", a mantra my Dad used on us kids every time we got hurt. And of course, if you say it long enough, it does become true.

Then the tag is inserted into the hole.

After this is done and any residual bleeding has been stopped, the seal goes through the rest of the pre-release process of measuring....

and then into a crate and transported to the release site.

From left to right is Jen, our intern Melissa's dad (Thanks for letting me know Melissa!), Penny, and Shona. It was a gorgeous day for our first seal release and while the first two took off out of their crates....

...the third one...well....

...there's always at least one holdout among the bunch. Serena tried a new tactic this year to get the seal to come out.

It's like a 0ne sided water fight, I know, but it's certainly better than being unceremoniously dumped out of one's carrier and hey, it worked!

After the last one came out, they all swam off.

Bye guys! Take 'er easy! Til next time...