Seals kindergarten was opened after reconstruction


The opening ceremony of the Marine Mammals Research and Protection Center at the Repino wastewater treatment plant of Vodokanal took place on September 5. The event was attended by the Acting Governor of St.Petersburg, G.S. Poltavchenko.

The Repino Center reconstruction was started immediately after the pups and seals rehabilitation season termination on the July 16, 2014. Now the Marine Mammals Research and Protection Center is created, which has no analogues in Russia.

The Centre three units can receive up to 40 animals.

A quarantine unit with sealed boxes was built for newly arrived animals. It is designed for individual keeping of marine mammals during the quarantine period. Multi-purposed facilities are provided in this section in accordance with modern veterinary requirements. Under the existing rules, patients should be isolated for a month: meanwhile they are tested for the presence of pathogens and are treated, if necessary. The isolated keeping of animals in individual boxes with pools, balanced ventilation and the possibility of weakened seals warming is provided for this purpose. Disinfectant mats, special disinfection lamps and disinfection solutions will also be applied to ensure the site sanitary conditions.

The access to the animals is possible only through a special room, namely sanitary lock, where the Center staff change streetwear to workwear. Clothes are also disinfected in special cabinets. The entire quarantine unit is divided into two parts: two feed processing rooms and two examination rooms, and boxes are arranged in order to keep the animals separately from each other. It is necessary in order to separate the animals from different water bodies - the Gulf of Finland and the Ladoga Lake.

The laboratory diagnostics room is also located here. Animals are frequently received with various injuries and other health problems. Specialists with the modern equipment can quickly identify animals’ problems and provide appropriate treatment.

During the first stage of rehabilitation the seal pups are fed exclusively through a tube: they are fed with a mixture of minced herring, cod liver oil and electrolytes for dehydration prevention. The feeding mixture for pups is cooked in the feed processing rooms. Pets have to receive only the best and fresh herring, because it is very important for the fastest possible health recovery of the weak and sick animals.

Once the animals recover and gain enough weight, they are transferred to the physical rehabilitation premises. It is the second unit. Health improved seals are rehabilitated here. They are kept at the almost outside temperature, eat fish, recover reduced motor activity, and gradually are adapted to the cold water, and trained to hunt fish.

The third unit comprises adaptation houses. Here animals are prepared for the release into the wild. During six-eight weeks of rehabilitation seals are accustomed to humans, and it is wrong. Wild animal must remain wild. For this reason seals barely contact people at the adaptation site. Seals spend most of the time in water, but also have the opportunity to rest “on the shore’. Fish is provided to them from behind of the screen, since it is necessary in order to prevent the animals association of the food appearance with the man. The rehabilitation center visitors will be able to observe this unit only from behind the demi-transparent barrier, so the animals do not see people.

The seals ready to be released have to gain a normative weight of 10% more than it should be for the animals at their age. This "surplus" animals provides animals with sufficient energy for the period when the animal habituates itself to the new environment and learns to hunt in the wild. 

Moreover, a platform for field studies of the North-West region mammals appeared in the Marine Mammals Research and Protection Center. The main focus will be on the study and rehabilitation of the population of the Baltic ringed seals in the Gulf of Finland. This is where the necessary equipment for such works is stored. A copter with a portable camera is used for observation of the animals on rookeries, there are binoculars, a telescope, a camera, camera traps and etc. 

The breeding season for seals begins in late February - early March. This will be the time for the Center to host new patients having all necessary conditions.

There are three species of marine mammals in our region: Ladoga ringed seals, Baltic grey seals and Baltic ringed seals. The status of the Baltic ringed seal population is a particular concern today. Number of these animals is extremely low - no more than two hundred are left in the Russian part of the Gulf. Moreover, these animals live in isolation from other populations of ringed seals in the Baltic Sea, and if they do not remain in the Gulf of Finland, the Russian fauna will lose one species.

St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko gave his support to the project of the Baltic ringed seal protection patronized by Vodokanal during the Public Council for the Tripartite Cooperation Project "The Gulf of Finland Year - 2014" held on the 10th of April.

Today, it has been announced that the Baltic Seal Friends Foundation was registered.


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