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It’s hard to tell a seal pup to not be afraid when he’s suffering from facial wounds likely inflicted by another animal and is lying on the beach emaciated. But, in the expert hands of the Vancouver Aquarium’s phenomenal Marine Mammal Rescue Centre team, Jude is now making an impressive recovery.
Jude was found June 3 near Massett in Haida Gwaii, and was flown to Vancouver in cargo space donated by Pacific Coastal Airlines. When the Aquarium’s veterinary team examined him for the first time he had wounds in his left upper lip, a deep puncture wound right next to his right eye, and his right upper eyelid was completely gone. Jude’s face was in rough shape, and they weren’t sure if keeping his eye was a possibility at the time, but they were going to do their best to save it.
They sedated the pup, removed the dead skin around his eye, and flushed it clean. With his upper eyelid gone the tricky part was making sure he would be able to cover his cornea with his lower eyelid. They sutured the wounds around his eye and his upper lip, basically putting his adorable little face back together again.
After several procedures, the Aquarium’s veterinary team has now removed the sutures from his upper lip and the wound around his right eye — examination shows about 90 percent of the original wounds are now closed, and the tissue exposed continues to heal. The cornea of Jude’s right eye looks great; he seems to be able to fully close his eye without a complete upper eyelid and the team believes he will be able to keep his eye.
The plan is to continue to monitor his healing wounds but he is bright and eating well. Dr. Karisa Tang, who has performed multiple surgeries on Jude says, “If his eye stays healthy, his wounds continue to heal well, and the rest of his recovery is on track, we hope to be able to release him back in to the wild.” The tough young pup has gone through a lot already but the Rescue Team is seeing improvements every day. Jude is now swimming in a pool with other seal pups, eating whole fish and gaining weight.
This year, names for seal pup patients are chosen by select supporters of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, such as the Plastic Oceans Foundation. The Plastic Oceans Foundation recently announced Julian Lennon as their new patron, and as one of his first acts with the Foundation, he chose the name “Jude” for the Rescue Centre’s resilient seal pup patient. A new hospital building is under construction at our Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, and fundraising for construction costs is a priority.
Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, presented by Port Metro Vancouver, is a hospital for sick, injured or orphaned marine mammals. The Rescue Centre rescues stranded marine mammals and rehabilitates them for release back into their natural habitat. If you see a marine mammal that you believe is in distress, contact us at 604-258-SEAL (7325). Visit our site for more information.