How to Recognize a Seal in Need

Healthy Seals versus Seals in Need

This is a general list- if you are ever unsure if a seal may be in trouble, please give us a call before you take any action. Even if they appear to have some of these potential signs of distress, they may actually be ok. While you may be able to get close to the seal to observe some of these behaviors, never touch the seal without first consulting us.

Healthy:

-Eyes should be clear and alert with large wet patches surrounding them (only visible when the pup's fur is dry)

-Can be on the beach alone (with mom visiting every few hours to feed them)

-Lots of body fat - like a very fat Labrador, but with short flippers instead of long legs

-Breathing pattern is what we would think is irregular (typically three strong breaths followed by holding their breath for about fifteen seconds)

- Should be lying on their side or back, or with head up and looking around while on their belly

 

Potential Problems:

-Any obvious wounds, such as cuts and entanglements

-Cloudy or crusty eyes, or if lots of blinking and squinting

-Mucus or blood around mouth or nose

-Continuous breathing (constant in-and-out flow)

-Lots of coughing, sneezing or wheezing while breathing

-Able to see shape of their ribs or other bones, skin may also look loose or baggy

-Lethargic or unresponsive behavior when approached

Common seals. Top photo- very sick pup with dry crusty eyes and very skinny. Bottom photo- healthy pup with large wet patches around eyes and a good weight. (This is a before and after shot of a seal called Tully who came into care in August 2013 and was successfully released several months later. The square patch on her back is from where she was shaved to give her life saving IV fluids)

Common seals. Top photo- very sick pup with dry crusty eyes and very skinny. Bottom photo- healthy pup with large wet patches around eyes and a good weight. (This is a before and after shot of a seal called Tully who came into care in August 2013 and was successfully released several months later. The square patch on her back is from where she was shaved to give her life saving IV fluids)

Gray seals. Both pre-moult and post-moult.

Gray seals. Both pre-moult and post-moult.