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Seal pup rescued on Dalian beach

By Zhang Xiaomin in Dalian, Liaoning | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-23 07:09
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The seal pup at a marine rescue center in Dalian, Liaoning province. LI XUEJIN/FOR CHINA DAILY

A spotted seal pup discovered on Saturday on a beach in Dalian, Liaoning province, is being attentively cared for by researchers at a local marine rescue center, ensuring its well-being and eventual return to the wild.

"Upon admission, the seal weighed 11.5 kilograms, indicating a relatively lean condition. But it is now in good spirits and very lively," said Wang Zhen, a research assistant at the Liaoning Ocean and Fisheries Science Research Institute.

Wang said the seal pup has a good appetite and requires feeding with a liquid diet four to five times a day.

"Due to its sensitive digestive system, it needs specially prepared nutritious meals," he said. "Fish meat, after removing the skin and bones, is ground into a pulp, mixed with powdered milk, slightly warmed, and then administered to the seal pup through a stomach tube."

The pup has not yet shed its birth coat, allowing researchers to estimate its age at around 10 days, as seal pups typically shed their birth coat around 15 days after birth.

The person who discovered the pup, surnamed Meng, was walking with her family along the beach at a forest park in the Dalian High-Tech Industrial Zone on Saturday.

"The wind was particularly strong that day, and it seemed like it had been washed up by the big waves," she said. "Initially, we tried to guide it back to the sea, but as we approached, the seal pup, perhaps feeling frightened, bared its teeth and growled at us."

Meng called a rescue hotline for the city's maritime and fishery administrative team and a team rushed to the scene and informed the research institute.

Following an on-site examination that confirmed the absence of external injuries, the seal pup was placed in a rescue cage and transferred to the institute for further care.

The spotted seal, under first-class national protection in China, is the only marine mammal with front and rear flippers to breed in Chinese waters. Every November, they come to Liaodong Bay in the Bohai Sea from cold northern waters to breed before heading northward in May.

The Dalian Spotted Seal Reserve, established in 1992 as a provincial-level reserve and upgraded to national level in 1997, plays an important role in their conservation.

Wang said it is relatively rare to find seal pups in the Yellow Sea at this time of the year, so the pup had probably spent quite some time adrift at sea.

As seal pups lack the ability to independently hunt for food, timely human intervention can significantly improve their chances of survival, he said.

"After a week of liquid feeding, we will conduct regular checkups, cultivate its ability to feed independently, and then initiate the process of returning it to the wild, once it meets the necessary conditions," Wang said.



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