On 2nd January 2020 a curious guest showed up on the west coast of Ireland in CO. Kerry in the shape of a fluffy little cloud. After further sitings and photos send into our 24h-hour rescue hotline, our animal care team were able to distinguish this peculiar creature – it was an arctic ringed seal!
A week had passed and she cropped up again on 12th January in Co. Clare, a massive 150km swim up north for this little pup. In the short space of time since her first appearance, she had lost condition and seemed to be very dehydrated. Our animal care assistant, Gale Loescher, was able to organise the newcomer’s transport from Co. Clare all the way down to our rescue centre in Co. Wexford. The lethargic, and slightly bewildered, pup made it to the centre at 11 pm where she was treated with fluids, and given time to rest peacefully.
Our animal care staff were very mindful to keep as much distance as possible to this little ringed seal. Being native to the arctic and often not having any contact with humans in their lives, they are prone to Capture Myopathy – they can become easily stressed, causing them to overheat and die.
Once the first critical 12 hours had passed, we knew she was on her way to a full bill of heatlh. After taking poll within the Seal Rescue Ireland community we all finally settled on a name after one or two friendly co-worker disputes;
Cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus): also called salmonberry, yellowberry, bakeapple, bakeberry, malka, or baked apple berry, creeping herbaceous plant in the rose family (Rosaceae), native to the Arctic and subarctic regions of the north temperate zone, and its edible raspberry-like fruit.
Being our first ever experience with a ringed seal, we are in contact with both the Alaska SeaLife Center and Zeehondencentrum Pieterburen who have both had experience rehabilitating them, and they are helping to give us advice on her specific needs.
At the moment we are trying to figure out a bit more about her… for one we are trying to pinpoint her age more accurately. Coming into us at 60cm in length, and weighing 9kg, we think Cloudberry is just under a year old, even though she still maintained a lot of her lanugo when found.
After bloods had been drawn and tested, she was found to have no abnormalities and has a very strong heartbeat. within a couple of days, she started to eat *shred* her fish and now she could even give the big grey seals a run for their supper! Gaining a huge 4kg and a week she is now 18.6kg! #CHONK
Whether she was washed here in ocean currents or was born here by a misplaced mother, one thing is for sure, she is far away from her normal home range. Due to Earth’s warming atmospheric and ocean temperatures; ocean currents, acidity and salinity are changing drastically which are disrupting ecosystems across the globe. Compounding environmental feedback loops are resulting in previously unseen natural behaviours to become more prevalent. With massive reductions in Arctic sea ice, it’s becoming more likely that we’ll see foreign individuals like Cloudberry, visiting Ireland looking for safe habitat.