So I've had a couple of elephant seal rescues lately but I didn't take any photos because the first animal, Matti, was just pretty depressing (major pyrothorax, since been euthanized) and the second animal, Charlene, came in too late in the day to get good shots. The ellies all look pretty much the same, anyway, so I figured it wasn't worth getting up at 8 am to go take pictures. I was, however, secretly hoping that Charlene's name wouldn't work out, since she came in on 4/20. I offered a backup name (Chronic) that may or may not have made it through the censors...
What was worth waking up early for was my trip to Sausalito on Easter Sunday. I stepped out of my box a bit and went to work crew with a volunteer I've never traveled with before. It was her first visit to the center, which can be rather intimidating without an escort. We missed a lot of action on the home front (another friend actually called and begged me to turn around, they were having that crazy of a rescue day), but we got plenty of action of our own.
We started working in the harbor hospital where we found that Melissa's doing great. She's actually featured on the website as the first harbor of the year. I got some decent photos of her (including the one above) but since the most interesting ones were taken with my disposable camera, they're pretty grainy. She's up to 30 pounds now and is even eating whole fish. Luka is also doing alright. His bite wounds (from the abusive adult harbors at Pirate's Cove) are still healing (and some have abscessed) and he's been a little pukey, but he's still alive and kicking.
By the way, on the same web page, if you scroll down to fur seals and click on "check out new footage of our fur seal release" you can actually see Famous being released (at the very end of the video). Also, Shawna is on that page and she has also recently been released. Check out how fat she got and how sad her scars still look. Also, if you're watching the release video, you can see how small and crowded and scary looking the boat will be when I go on it this Saturday to release the remaining fur seals. I'm not really sure why I am going (all my fur seals have been released and I have a morbid fear of the ocean) but it somehow seems important to travel 27 miles out to sea through the so-called Red Triangle. At least I should have the nausea covered. I've got prescription and over the counter meds as well as those acupressure bracelets.
Anyway, while I was working up at the center, I did get to work with my most recent fur seals, Woodco and Monahan. They were still pretty fresh off the beach and Monahan hadn't yet aborted her toxic, domoic acid filled fetus, so they weren't being very photogenic. Friends who just returned from Sausalito tonight report that the two of them are now eating fish and looking great. Equally energetic are the scrawny sea lions I had recently, Spanokopita and Baba Ghanoush.
I also got this cute shot of Doughie, peeking at me from the pool.
I think the highlight of my trip, however, was getting to see Astro, the steller sea lion we've raised from a pup. He was picked up in Santa Cruz last June when he was just a baby. And although he is now over 200 pounds, he's still being bottle fed. He's actually due to be released this Wednesday (geez, that's tomorrow) as he is willing to eat live fish (the final exam for release) and he's at the age when he would naturally be weaned from mom. I must say I'm particularly proud of this close up (below) that I got when Astro was watching me restrain his neighbor, Woodco.
In any event, it was refreshing to make my semi-annual pilgrimage to Sausalito. I skipped it last year and had forgotten how satisfying it can be to work a ten hour day surrounded by poop and dead fish. It was a well-timed reminder of why I do what I do. I needed that reminder as things have been a bit rocky locally lately. We recently got our first ever paid staff person on site. Not a big deal, except for years I was actually aspiring to be that paid staff person (I had the grass roots support of my peers and many encouraging words from my would-be boss). Obviously, it didn't pan out. I grew accustomed to my life of sloth and they changed the requirements of the position so I was no longer eligible.
I am sure it's all for the better, but it's been a lot like getting a new roommate. Those who know me are groaning, because I am so not good with roommates... In fact, during a recent roommate type discussion, another seal friend of mine came up with a great new old tape for me to stew on. She attempted to shut down my opinion by asking me (and my friend who shares my opinion), "What happened to you? When I met you two, you used to be such nice girls." Apparently nice girls don't have strong opinions.
He knows. He always knows.
10 months ago