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Seal pup rescued from public boat launch dies

Seal Sitters’ hotline received calls from several concerned residents this morning regarding a seal pup in “distress” at Don Armeni boat launch. When our first responder arrived, the pup, who was on the cement ramp surrounded by large woody debris, was indeed in very serious trouble. After a call to PAWS Wildlife Center to make sure they could accept him, our NOAA authorized volunteers gently placed the incapacitated pup into a transport cage. Sadly, the pup died en route to PAWS’ facility in Lynnwood. A necropsy will be performed to determine the cause of death. A comparison of markings will be used to determine if this is a pup Seal Sitters has observed before on our beaches. Please check back for necropsy results.

The preliminary necropsy results on this male pup reveal that he had heartworms and a moderate amount of lungworms. The pup had been exhibiting seizures, so tissue was tested for domoic acid poisoning, but that test came up negative. Sterile brain tissue has been sent to a lab in Canada for further analysis, including testing for protozoal organisms which cause seizure symptoms. The pup was severely underweight with a blubber thickness of .7 cm (normal blubber thickness for a healthy pup is about 1.5 cm). To understand more about the difficulties pups face and impact of low body weight and parasites on them, please click here. The pup was not one we had looked after this season.

Initial result is that the pup tested positive for a toxoplasma or neospora-like protozoals in the brain tissue, causing the neurological symptoms. Further testing is underway.
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