SeaWorld Releases Fur Seal After Rehabilitation
An underweight Guadalupe fur seal found in Carlsbad last month has returned to health and was released back into the ocean Friday, with an attached transmitter that scientists hope will provide data on where members of the species travel.
The ailing seal was discovered on a seawall Dec. 12 and taken to SeaWorld San Diego for treatment of lacerations on her right side.
Weighing around 80 pounds upon arrival at the theme park, the adult female was given fluids and antibiotics, and fed a diet of capelin, herring and sardines, according to SeaWorld. She weighed about 98 pounds when released.
Scientists at the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute said they hope to learn where she travels, forages for food and, ultimately, where she thrives.
It's believed the seals remain in an area between Guadalupe Island — 400 miles southwest of Ensenada, Mexico — and San Miguel Island, the westernmost of the Channel Islands off California.
The researchers think the transmitter will fall off within six months, when the seal molts.
After being on the brink of extinction in the early 1900s, about 10,000 Guadalupe fur seals are believe to exist, according to SeaWorld. Park officials said their animal rescue team cared for 250 ill, injured or stranded marine mammals last year.
They said they also took care of 275 birds, a turtle and a shark. Around 70 percent of the rescued wildlife ends up back in native habitats.