Saturday, April 11, 2009
More Than You Probably Want To Know About Fish... and Poll Results!
So after taking last week off, I'm back at the rescue center. Since my last regular update we've received at least 6 new Elephant Seals, 7 Seal Lions, and 1 Harbor Seal.. and that's not including patients that have passed away or been released!
Right as I entered the center, I was immediately asked to assist with the euthanasia of an juvenile Elephant Seal that had suffered extreme facial wounds that had left him unable to hunt and eat food on his own (not exactly the best way to start your day). After the euthanasia, the on-call vet performed a necropsy, starting with the seal's face. Usually I enjoy helping out with this kind of thing, but it was just too early in the morning for my stomach to be OK with a necropsy (I had eaten breakfast in the car on the way there), so I opted to help out with the fish sorting instead.
All of the fish we use at the center is bought from fishermen based in Huntington Beach. We go through the exact same process that a restaurant would go through in order to get fish for their customers. In fact, the meat we use for our pinnipeds is of a similar quality to what you'd find in a high end seafood restaurant! We buy mostly Herring and Anchovy, which come in boxes of 10 kilos. The boxes are stacked in our freezer, and every morning and afternoon we unload roughly 20 to 40 kilos into our coolers to be sorted for the pinnipeds.
Usually the first task of the day is to sit down and sort through these frozen fish, weeding out the "bad looking" ones and putting the good ones in bowls for feeding time later in the day. "Bad fish" are one's that might have gone bad before being frozen, or fish that are missing heads. Even if the meat is good, a pinniped will usually refuse to eat a fish without a head. This is most likely an evolutionary adaptation that allows them to recognize healthy fish, while also finding food that will fit down their throats. Pinnipeds always eat fish head-first to avoid any fin-folding as it's being swallowed.
By the end of the fish sorting we end up with a few dozen bowls of fish, organized by which animal will eat it, that go into the fridge until feeding time.
The Juvenile Unit was full of animals this week. There's so many new animals that it would take forever to keep track of them on a one-by-one basis in this blog! Here, one of our volunteers is giving a sub-Q to Cliff, one of our new rescues (see the March 28th entry for more about sub-Q'ing). The process leaves these mounds of fluid under the animal's skin, but it quickly diffuses into the body.
The neighboring Sea Lions didn't seem to be bothered by us...
Here's Milkyway, our newest and most curious Sea Lion. He spent a lot of the day watching animals in other pens, and rolling around in the sun.
Towards the middle of the day we got a rescue call from Dana Point: a city about 15 minutes south of the rescue center. By the time we got to the beach where the caller was, the animal had gotten back into the water and was gone! (For anyone who's familiar with the area, the animal was found at the Ocean Institute, right next to the antique sailing boat that they use for their classes.)
Back at PMMC, our three favorite Elephant Seals were being "herded" into their nighttime pen, where we had a bed made out of blankets for them to sleep on. Unfortunately, nothing is easy when it comes to Augustine, Bobcat, and Natasha...
Augustine was the brave one who went first.
She was followed reluctantly by Bobcat..
...and finally Natasha came too.
Usually all it takes to move an Ele is to stand behind them with a board, but sometimes they need an extra push. They never hesitate to voice their disapproval (in case you didn't notice)... I think Augustine was saying something along the lines of "go die in a fire". In the end, they enjoyed their warm and dry beds.
In the outside pens we fed two new Ele's: Hershey and Bosco. Being able to dive and eat in the water is an indicator of great health!
Last but not least, the results are in for the first ever Pinniped Poll! Thanks to everyone who came and voted!
"Which is your favorite pinniped at PMMC?"
In first place we have Sea Lions, with 38% of the vote!
Closely followed by Elephant Seals, who had 30% of the vote!
In third place was Northern Fur Seals, with 23% of the vote. This surprised me because we haven't had any Fur Seals at PMMC since I started this blog, and the only exposure I've given them is the picture on the sidebar under the pinniped description.... but the votes don't lie!
In last place was the Harbor Seals, with 15%. Poor Wexford!!! I never would have guessed that Ele's would out-vote the Harbor Seals!
The poll is closed now, but I'll leave the result box at the bottom of the page so that it can still be viewed. I'm definitely going to have more polls in the future. If you have any ideas for future polls, leave a comment and tell me! Until then, cya next week.
Posted by wolf at 2:42 PM