Pup recovering after rescue on K-Beach

Family finds, saves young harbor seal

Posted: Monday, May 08, 2000

Easter Day was more than just a holiday for the Lockwood family, it was the day they saved an innocent being from the harsh reality of nature.

The day before Easter, Mark and Jennifer Lockwood noticed that eagles were circling something on the beach near their home on Cannery Road, off Kalifornsky Beach Road.

At first, they thought the eagles had found a fish, maybe a king or a red salmon, but after closer examination, they found more than just a fish.

"It looked like a fur hat lying on the beach," Mark Lockwood said.

The furry object turned out to be a newborn harbor seal pup that started moving and crying soon after it was discovered by the family.

The couple decided to leave it alone in case its mother returned. They scoured the beach looking for its mother or any other seals, Mark Lockwood said.

The couple stayed near the pup for a couple of hours, Lockwood said, because they were afraid the eagles would eat it. Though they did not want to disturb the pup, they left it on the beach in case the mother did come back for it.

They checked on the pup the next day to find it in the same location with no sign of any other seal marks in the sand.

They called the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward to find out how they could help the pup, and experts told them to put it in a bathtub of cool water up to its back.

The Lockwoods rescued the pup from the beach and did what the center advised. The young seal was weak, Mark Lockwood said. It cried a lot but moved very little. Denali, the Lockwood's 5-month-old daughter, sat in a chair next to the bath tub watching excitedly.

The center also told the couple to give the pup a bottle, since it might be dehydrated. So they fed it with a 16-ounce bottle of Ensure.

After the bath, the family took the pup outside and let it pull itself around the yard. It seemed to be feeling better, Lockwood said.

"We had a ball," he said. "It was a real big thrill."

Lynn Aderholt, Alaska SeaLife Center rehabilitation coordinator, traveled to the Lockwood home to pick up the pup and identified it as a female that still had a fleshy umbilicus and was said to be 2 days old.

When Aderholt arrived, she gave the pup an electrolyte and vitamin solution before the trip to Seward.

At the center, the seal was assessed, given fluids and purged of sand she had ingested on the beach. Her weight upon arrival at the center was almost 4 pounds, and her blood work came back with no sign of infection.

"She has a pretty good prognosis," Aderholt said. "She's a cutie."

Since her arrival at the center, the pup has gained a little more than 2 pounds.

Aderholt said the Lockwoods helped save the pup's life.

"They did everything correctly," she said.

The young seal was the second taken in by the SeaLife Center in April.

Another pup was found on Kodiak by subsistence seal hunters who had taken the mother in Alitak Bay. The hunters discovered the mother was pregnant and the pup was removed by caesarean section.

The male pup was flown to the center April 16 and is in good but guarded condition.

As the pups, who have yet to be named, get teeth, gain weight and are stabilized, the center will then begin weaning them. When their weight reaches more than 11 pounds, the center will switch them to a live fish diet, eventually releasing them, Aderholt said.

When the pups are ready, center officials will contact the National Marine Fisheries Service for assistance in setting the young seals free. The seals are usually set free near the area they are believed to come from, Aderholt said.

The Lockwoods said they were thrilled to be a part of the rescue.

"It's really special to save an animal, that's the rewarding part of it," Mark Lockwood said.

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