Six weeks since he was first whisked away to Baltimore from a muddy stretch of an inland Delaware river, Phil the harbor seal is showing signs of improvement.
That’s all thanks to the good folks over at the National Aquarium, who are currently caring for the down-on-his-luck seal in their Fells Point treatment center. In a blog post this week, aquarium staff said Phil has been eating heaps — around 10 pounds — of herring on a daily basis, and has put on 22 pounds in all since he first came into their care on April 11.
Before Phil got to Baltimore, he was just another harbor seal passing through the Chesapeake Bay. But last November, he wandered down the wrong path and became stuck in a shallow river branch in central Delaware. Monitors who had been tracking the lonely seal noticed his mobility was suffering and that he couldn’t find food.
Rescuers from the Delaware-based Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute – along with Jennifer Dittmar and Kate Shaffer of Baltimore’s aquarium – jumped in to help. After freeing Phil from harm’s way, they brought him to Baltimore to recover.
When he arrived, Phil was suffering from an eye infection and dehydration. To fix him up, veterinarians had to put him under, which isn’t easy on a seal. Fortunately, the procedure was successful and his eye is continuing to improve, staff said.
The process isn’t without its struggles, though. According to the update from Wednesday, vets are “still treating him for signs of illness, including some neurological irregularities.”
As an exercise to treat his neuro-issues, staff have placed a motion sensor in Phil’s room to monitor him, which they’re hoping will help.
The good news is that he’s eating plenty and is engaged with his “enrichment activities,” which staff wrote is “essential so he can forage for food and hone his natural instincts while in rehabilitation.”
If you need proof that he’s starting to feel better, here’s a photo of Phil eating fish out of a bucket.
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