Aug 22, 2023

Abandoned Seal Pup Will Soon Return To Ocean Thanks To Speedy Recovery

PALOS VERDES ESTATES, CA — Elmer, a newborn harbor seal found days after his birth in Christmas Tree Cove in Palos Verdes Estates, is well on his way to recovery just four months after his rescue.

The rescue team at the Marine Mammal Care Center met Elmer the harbor seal pup on the beach when he was left all alone without his mother in sight. He was found extremely malnourished and suffering from hypoxia, or a lack of oxygen, and had frequent seizures due to low blood glucose.

"For the first few weeks he was in our care, we weren’t sure if this sweet pup was going to make it," said MMCC CEO John Warner in an email. "Now, on his 4-month birthday, Elmer is in Pool 6, our most advanced pool designed for our patients to practice their real ocean skills."

Elmer weighed 14 pounds when the rescue team took him in with his umbilical cord still attached. The short time spent with his mother means Elmer did not receive much milk and had an immature immune system, according to Doctor Lauren Palmer, hospital director at the MMCC.

Dr. Palmer said that the circumstances that led to them taking Elmer in were unusual.

"It is not normal for a mother harbor seal to leave their pup for extended periods of time. It is possible she was startled off by human activity, but we will never know for sure," Dr. Palmer said.

These days, Elmer is the lone seal among elephant seal pups and California sea lions practicing his real ocean skills, such as competing for resources, hunting and socializing, Warner said. Elmer will soon be put to the test with a live fish exam that will determine whether or not he's ready to return to the ocean.

"Elmer's inspirational story reminds us of the importance and resilience of wild animals. He was only a few days old when we rescued him, making his chances of survival low; however, because of your support, Elmer gets a second chance at life," Warner said.

To donate to the MMCC to help with Elmer's recovery as well as support the treatment of other patients under the facility's care visit the organization's website.

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