Rehabilitation unit in Repino receives new patients

26.03.2014

The Pinnipedian Rehabilitation Centre located at Vodokanal St. Petersburg treatment plant in Repino has new patients: three baby grey seals and one little Baltic ringed seal.

One baby seal, the ninth patient, was delivered from Vyborg on 25 March. Its weight is 16kg. The tenth one, also a grey seal pup, came from Kronstadt, a man who was walking his dog found it on the shore. Its mass is 22kg – not enough to fly the nest. Therefore, the specialists decided to put it in the Rehabilitation Centre.

The eleventh patient is a Baltic ringed seal. It is a tiny she-seal, its mass is 10kg. It was found in Sosnoviy Bor by a young mother walking with her child along the beach. She called the Emergency Rescue Service, and the rescue team got in touch with the Pinnipedian Rehabilitation Centre. According to Vyacheslav Alexeyev, the founder of the Centre, the animal has no external injuries, however, its condition is considered to be critical.

The twelfth – a grey seal pup – was admitted in the evening of 25 March. It was found by marine inspectors of the Border Patrol who were checking the coastal area in Chernaya Lakhta (Leningrad Oblast, Lomonosovskiy District) for illegal fishing nets. The pup is very underweight: 12kg only.

All in all, there are twelve animals at the Rehabilitation Centre now: two Baltic ringed seals and ten grey seals. The condition of “old-timers” is satisfactory; very little pups are given special infant’s food for marine mammal calves while the others are fed with a mix of fish-oil, minced fish and special solutions for restoration of water balance.

It should be reminded that the first two grey seal pups (male and female) were admitted for rehabilitation on 14 and 16 March. By then, the female was about one and a half weeks old and the pup – only several days old. An older seal pup was found on the ice in the Gulf of Finland near the town of Kronstadt, the event was reported by watch-keepers of the training ship “Smolniy”. The pup was saved by the Emergency Rescue specialists who managed to approach it across the remaining ice using special equipment. The second pup, a newborn, was found by the workers of Kronstadt marine factory: it had crept onto the shore, got into a trash can and was calling out for help. The pup was covered with oil film all over.   

The third patient, a grey seal cow, was brought to the Centre from a beach in Sosnoviy Bor on 19 March. A young mother informed the Leningrad Oblast Marine Mammal Rehabilitation Centre about it.

The fourth and fifth pups were found by residents of Lebyazhye settlement, Lomonosovskiy District, in their backyards on 20 March. They are female grey seals too. They had been quite pinched with hunger by the time they were picked up.

The sixth pup (grey seal, male, about 10 days old) was found in Bolshaya Izhora settlement on 21 March; it was noticed by a military unit patrol. The animal was 150m from the shore, surrounded by dogs. The dogs barked at him but, fortunately, it was picked up before they could injure it. The pup was very weak of starvation and thirst (its weight was only 12.5kg).

The seventh pup, a little female grey seal, was found at 34th km of Primorskoye highway on 22 March. The local residents caught sight of it. It was lying at a big boulder near the water, crying for help. The condition of the animal is satisfactory, however the pup is starved and dehydrated, its weight is 16kg.

The eighth patient, a female Baltic ringed seal, was brought for rehabilitation on 24 March. It was found by the locals of Lebyazhye settlement. The information about the seal was conveyed to the Emergency Rescue Service, which in its turn contacted the Pinnipedian Rehabilitation Centre. The baby seal lay on the beach between concrete blocks. It was very small, no more than one week old. The animal had a very unusual fur color - chocolate brown. Such color is common for the Ladoga ringed seal, but for the Baltic ringed seal it is quite unusual. The animal was stressed, had rapid pulse and elevated temperature. It was important to keep the seal at rest. Experts immediately started rehydration therapy and other rehabilitation actions.  

The endangered population of the Baltic ringed seal inhabiting the Gulf of Finland causes the utmost concern among the experts. As noted by the founder of the Rehabilitation Centre Vyacheslav Alekseev, the population size of these animals is at extremely low level. The key feature of the ice conditions during this breeding season in the Gulf of Finland is a thin ice. By the end of March there was no ice on all parts of the Gulf of Finland. Such situation is critical for the Baltic ringed seal because female seals bed on the ice of the gulf, and there is no construction material for them and the ice itself is too thin.   

Cold overhangs newborn seals. Baby seals are not protected from wind and precipitation, they may die from hypothermia. Since baby seals do not have proper beds, they become an easy prey for carnivorous birds or dogs. Moreover, people may do harm to these rare animals.

Experts of the Pinnipedian Rehabilitation Centre continue to monitor the water basin and the coast of the Gulf of Finland and the Ladoga Lake, watch on the animal breeding and raise awareness among the locals of the coastal areas.

Experts of the Rehabilitation Centre remind that you must not in any case take a seal from the ice on your own – their nursing mothers may happen to be nearby. Do not come close to a seal and do not disclose your presence. If you find a seal on the coast, please, call the Rehabilitation Centre (tel.: + 7 812 699-23-99 (the telephone number operates around the clock).

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