Seal Kindergarten:

A Few Days in a Life of Marine Mammals Rescue Center

Life has been very busy at a small wastewater treatment plant of SUE "Vodokanal of St. Petersburg" that is located in a small suburban town of Repino. Marine Mammals Rescue Center that was organized there for the current season hosts now four animals: two Ladoga ringed seals and two Baltic gray seals. Da-Voda editorial loves visiting the cubs, and over past few visits we have shot a small film about the first three patients of the Center.

Da-Voda team really enjoyed the filming process

Mökörikkö the Third. This royal name was given to a pup of Ladoga ringed seal, our very first patient this year. In the end of March tourists were roaming along Ladoga Lake ice on snowmobiles and found the cub lying on the snow, completely exhausted. He couldn't even protect himself from crows who tried to attack him from above. The seal of only four weeks of age had body mass deficite and several wouns on finns and on eye cornea. However, he recovered rather soon: in a day or two the pup started eating whole fish.

In a couple of weeks Mökörikkö moved to a swimming pool. "Ever since then he doesn't even notice us, humans, hunting the fish he finds in the water, – zoologists Vyacheslav Alexeyev and Yelena Andriyevskaya say. – He weighs around 20 kilos now and now he is completely recovered and ready to be released back to nature". Even a white spot on his cornea has almost disappeared.

Ladoga ringed seal is totally accustomed to cold water and efficient hunting

Mökörikkö stays on rehab until May 20-24, as it was recommended by Federal Service on Natural Resources of Russian Fedetation. These animals are on a national Red list of endangered species, so they are controlled by government during all rehabilitation period. The ringed seal is to be taken on a small island at Ladoga Lake and released to nature. 

Visti and Halli. It's hard to believe it, but these two adorable cubs of Baltic gray seal were between life and death for several weeks after they arrived at Marine Mammals Rescue Center. Rehabilitologists picked both of them on April 11th in Leningrad region, near Ust-Luga Marine Port. Male seal pup, Visti, made a long way to a local resident Dmitry Titov, and female pup, Halli was rescued by the team of Sadko tugboat. At first specialists didn't even dare to give positive prognosis on them. Seal pups of their age (4 weeks) are supposed to weigh 35-40 kilos, but these two had slightly over 20 kilos for both!

Male gray seal pup, Visti loves herring more than anything – he constantly begs for it and licks the walls of his box

During first stage of rehabilitation the seals were tube-fed with a fish soup made of minced herring, water, rehydration medicine and vitamins. Now they eat by themselves. Visti eats over 4.5 kilos of herring daily and always begs for food. Halli developed these skills later, but now she's keen on begging as well! "Gray seals are always hungry! – zoologists say. – Now that they learned to catch fish from water, they both tend to eat more and more".

Halli, the female gray seal pup, used to suck and nibble on towels, but when she got accustomed to cold water, she dropped this habit for good

Rehabilitologists haven't checked their weight recently, but we have noticed that their constitution changed dramatically – from creepy bony creatures to young and healthy seals! Their release is due on beginning of June.

All photos and video footage: Igor Denisov for Da-Voda.

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