Animal Rescue Update: Goodbye Sodapop, Hello Eyegore!

Published May 31, 2013

by Jenn Dittmar, Manager of National Aquarium Animal Rescue

The 2012-2013 seal season has been a busy one for our Animal Rescue team!

Last Thursday, we successfully released Sodapop, a male harbor seal that was treated for a severe respiratory infection. An animal release is always a cause for celebration for our department – we spend countless hours caring for animals in rehabilitation, and to be rewarded by seeing an animal return to its natural environment is a joyous event. Despite the rainy weather, we had a large group join us on the beach at Assateague State Park to say farewell to Sodapop!

harbor seal on the beach

At his release, we can only assume Sodapop had the following thought: So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!

After Sodapop was released, our team had just one seal in rehabilitation – Ponyboy, a male grey seal being treated for a wound to the left front flipper. Ponyboy has been doing great – his wound is healing well, and the veterinarians recently discontinued his antibiotics. He has been enjoying enrichment several times a day, but his favorite enrichment is fishcicles! Fishcicles are jumbo frozen treats with lots of yummy fish, and they are a refreshing way for the seals to enjoy their food. Fishcicles encourage natural foraging behaviors, and stimulate their minds and tactile senses – they are usually a big hit! If Ponyboy continues to improve, we hope to be able to release him in the near future!

grey seal

Ponyboy was not alone at our Seal Rehabilitation Facility for long. The day after Sodapop’s release, we admitted a juvenile grey seal from the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team, named Eyegore the Maniac. Eyegore was initially admitted for rehabilitation on April 18th for a respiratory infection and severe infection of the left eye. After being stabilized at the Virginia Aquarium for about a month, he was transferred to the National Aquarium for long-term rehabilitation.

grey seal eyegore

Eyegore has a feisty demeanor, which is a good trait for a wild seal. His respiratory and eye infection have responded well to antibiotics, though he does have permanent scarring of the left cornea that affects his vision. Eyegore’s health is improving, despite his permanent visual impairment, and he actively enjoys lounging in his rehabilitation pool and interacting with enrichment..

Stay tuned for updates on the progress of these animals, including release details!

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Jenn Dittmar

Manager of National Aquarium Animal Rescue

National Aquarium - Jen Dittmar

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