By Reid Brewer
For the Dutch Harbor Fisherman
Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) are regular visitors to Aleutian beaches, but sometimes marine mammals, like people, get injuries and infections and need treatment. On the 20th of August 2010, the Harbor Masters office reported a beached Harbor seal pup that appeared injured with labored breathing on the south side of the City dock. Local members of the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (MMHSRP) deployed to the beach only to find that the seal had vacated the area. Over the next two days, several calls came in from various sources spotting the seal, but the poor condition of the seal could not be verified. On the 22nd of August, Mark Norder from Magone Marine reported the seal on a nearby beach. Upon inspection, the seal pup was deemed in very poor health with visible wounds and the Alaska Sea Life Center (ASLC) stranding hotline was called. After communicating the condition of the seal to staff at the ASLC the decision was made to capture and transport the seal to Seward for rehabilitation.
On the 23rd of August, Antigua (the seal) arrived at the ASLC in Seward and was stabilized and given a veterinary examination. In addition to the puncture wounds on her body, she was underweight and dehydrated. Since her care at the ASLC, Antigua has become very feisty and alert and is eating Herring and Capelin on her own. Antigua joins 13 other seals, sea otters and birds at the ASLC that are being treated from locations all over the state. Once Antigua is deemed healthy and fit to be released, she will be flown back out to Unalaska and released into her home waters.
For questions concerning the MMHSRP go to http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/. The hotline to report sick, injured or dead marine mammals is 1-888-774-7325 or locally call Reid Brewer at 581-4589.To check on Antigua’s progress go to:http://www.alaskasealife.org/New/rehabilitation/in