A Guadalupe fur seal rescued and rehabilitated by SeaWorld San Diego is helping with important research. The year-old female was found emaciated and comatose on a San Diego-area beach in March, and veterinarians determined she was hyperglycemic and hypothermic. After months of medical treatment by SeaWorld animal care specialists, she made a full recovery.
Prior to her release last week, scientists from the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (HSWRI) outfitted her with a satellite-linked radio transmitter. The satellite transmitter will help Drs. Brent Stewart and Pamela Yochem, senior research scientists at HSWRI, monitor the seal's travels for several months. Little is known about the whereabouts of Guadalupe fur seals when they at sea, and it is hoped by tracking this rescued animal, scientific information will be obtained on where and how long they spend foraging for food in the open ocean. So far, Stewart and Yochem are pleased that the initial tracking data received from the satellite is showing the seal is moving west towards deeper waters along the continental shelf.
SeaWorld San Diego averages 200 marine mammal rescues per year, releasing between 60 and 70 percent of these animals back to the sea. By giving this fur seal a second chance at life, scientists will also gain greater insight into the behavior of this threatened specie in the wild.