Friday, April 11, 2008

super seal extravaganza

March kept me so busy blogging (almost) every day that I fell way behind on my seal photos. I've finally got them all downloaded and doctored and it seems pup season is indeed in full swing. Before we get into the deluge, though, I'll share my wee bit of family news. Apparently Kevin and my Dad are shaving their heads (this weekend?) as a fund raiser for cancer. Dad doesn't have much hair, as most of you know, so he should be pleased to calculate that he is raising more money per follicle. Still, I can't imagine Kevin without his curly locks. He assures me there will be photos.

Anyway, April has been pleasant. A bit windy for my taste and not enough rain (getting worried about my chance to work with bees this summer), but the sea glassing has been good. I have officially found the Big Dipper (though the Little one lies beyond the horizon?) and I have enjoyed a couple fun walks with the 79 year old Norwegian lady in my neighborhood. Our paths often cross in the evening but usually she's with her German friend, Anna. Anna travels often, and so when I come across my neighbor alone I join her. Anyway, I've enjoyed her tales about her parents (her mother would be appalled that Hillary is running for present - she once freaked out when the person who showed up to repair her washer was female, calling the company and insisting they send someone else, who was not a "voman"...), and her sons (one, I knew, lives across the street and has apparently stopped drinking, the other has moved in with her after suffering multiple strokes, yet he still smokes...). But the story I enjoyed most of all was when she told me I had a very Norwegian looking face. I assured her I was Welsh, maybe Scottish, and also part Irish, to which she replied, "Oh, but you know that the Vikings came over and raped all your women, so you've got some Norwegian in you..." Too funny.

So I've only got three days to clean before Grace and my sister get here. I'm super excited but somehow not very inspired. Perhaps this is because I have been to my sister's house. And she's the first to assure me that with six fewer cats and two fewer dogs, my house is automatically cleaner than hers. I'm a bit concerned about the spider karma, though, because the guest room is also the spider portal. And I have to stock up on Diet Cokes (Suz drinks at least six a day) and I fear that I missed the best sale last week. But I will definitely be making a trip to Costco for blueberries - Grace is so cute with the blueberries... and tonight we are going to try to make hot dog octopi, just like we had at Disneyland, to perfect our technique.

Anyhow, those who really don't care about the seal stories can stop here. Those who like the photos can just skim. For the rest, we'll start with my most recent fun and work our way back...

I was last on call Sunday April 6th, which started at 8 am with the task of feeding and shipping off the sloppy seconds. First was an elephant seal named Chuckles. In addition to being vocal and adorable, I liked Chuckles the most as we had a connection. I'd actually put her on watch the Thursday before. At the time she didn't look quite so dehydrated and she was in a quiet place, though I must admit my first instinct was to pick her up. I was surprised to learn she was only 33 kg - seems we should've scooped her up after all. (The cut off for pick ups is 40 kg.) Still, had we rescued her Thursday I would've missed out on a lunch date with my rescue pals.

The second of my sloppy seconds was Ojo Rojo, apparently so named for the red spot over his right eye. We get lots of calls on elephant seals with alleged eye injuries because of their red third eye lid. I'll admit it's a bit creepy to see (we encounter it at alot as we often wake them up to assess them). Other common "ailments" are labored breathing (they always breathe that way), crying or snot (which both signal hydration), and, funniest of all, their self-awareness that they are dying and thus they are burying themselves (as elephant seals like to flip sand on their backs). I love how people assume a marine mammal would be so courteous as to dig his own grave. Anyway, Ojo Rojo was a little quiet, and a little crummy looking, but he's still in treatment, so that's good.

So we got breakfast into the two elephant seals, but before we could ship them, we got calls on two other animals. I went with one girl to put another ellie on watch (which again I am thinking we could've picked up, he was maybe 37 kg, but with great red gums and a little snot) while the rest of the team checked on Sparta. Sparta was tagged, a suspected victim of long term DA, recently released in our area. I have mixed feelings about the fact that we couldn't catch Sparta. He's only been out for a month, but if he came back in he'd most likely get an EEG during which they'd probly detect subclinical seizure activity, after which he'd most certainly be euthanized. On the one hand, it must be no fun to be an epileptic seal. On the other hand, is it more fun to be dead?

Anyway, while the sloppy seconds were finally in transport, we got to pick up my first chocolate flavored harbor pup, Sneaker. (Though come to think of it, Melissa turned brown as she grew up, still, this was my first black baby...) Sneaker was illegally picked up and moved from a floating oyster bed to a muddy boat launch. By the time we got involved we figured it was too late to reunite her with mom. So we had the pleasure of keeping her overnight and I got to do the whole midnight feed routine. A nice full day of being on call.

I believe I mentioned that I played on Thursday April 3rd, helping to ship off Bait, another sea lion (from the drive on beach) who'd been seen apparently swallowing fishing line. We were surprised to see she'd barfed up a bird in the morning. Very interesting, not the usual sea lion fare. It was then that I noticed Bait most likely used to have a flipper tag (again, possibly a chronic DA). You'd have to be a bit brain damaged to eat a bird instead of a fish... Anyway, according to the medical updates, Bait had no fishhooks inside but she was the victim of gunshot and sadly, she didn't make it. That's the problem with writing my rescue stories up late - I can't just leave you with the happy possibility that a bird barfing seal is now in perfect health. Well, I guess I could. But I don't. Sorry about that.

Anyway, after we shipped off Bait, we captured Loggerhead, a sea lion hanging on a dog beach that should not have been easy to catch. Loggerhead was right in the tide line and well aware of our approach. She let us catch her, I swear. Turns out, though it wasn't obvious at the time, that she is also listed as a gunshot victim. We were kinda hoping with no salmon season this year that we wouldn't have a shot sea lion season either. Guess we were wrong. Anyway, after leaving Loggerhead to rest, we went and checked on the would-be Chuckles, marking her with a yellow S (which was for Sharron, or Super, depending on how you look at it) and had the aforementioned lunch.

Tuesday the 1st was when I caused big trouble. I was minding my own business collecting sea glass on my local beach when I came across a skinny little (32.2 kg) elephant seal on watch. I called the gal that was in charge of rescues that day and in my apparently less than tactful way I made a strong case for a pick up. At first she seemed pleased with my intervention (having felt bad leaving him on watch) but she soon called me back to scold me for second-guessing her. I later got a second scolding from the chick who is in charge everyday for allegedly "not following protocol" (though I had followed protocol) which I assume was also just because she didn't appreciate feeling second guessed. Whatever. I'm happy, as I'd get in trouble everyday if it was what's best for the animal. Anyway, I rescued the poor thing with the help of a local gal who was on schedule, but I let the usual crew treat it. We named it Ray Sugar (for Rachael, the little girl who helped me watch it, and Sugar, her off leash dog...) but I have no photos as I don't take my camera sea glassing and I didn't feel very welcome to cruise by the next day.

From here we have to go back to Sunday night, March 30th, for my next seal action. Sunday I had the pleasure of putting Mandella, another harbor seal, on watch. She looked okay then, was alert, and was in a rookery with adults nearby (within earshot, but not line of sight). No sign of an umbilicus (meaning, like Sneaker, she was at least ten days old), and spots on her fur (so no preemie lanugo coat). All this added up to no automatic pick up. Anyway, my friend and I checked on her the next morning (actually, I was lazy and sent my friend first, sure she would be back with mom) and we picked her up on Monday the 31st. It was tough to hand her over to the Monday crew, though we did get to come back for the midnight feed. Good old midnight feeds. I can always count on those.

Also on the 30th we picked up McLovin, a scrawny critter from San Simeon who waited patiently for us for nearly four hours while we went to the drive on beach to fetch a sea lion. Too bad McLovin is a girl, as we were intending to use the name on a boy. Anyway, here McLovin is looking a bit fierce, but in reality she was pretty sweet. A bit barfy, but that's usually our fault when we tube them too quickly...

The sea lion on the drive on beach (that we abandoned McLovin for) was poor old Subprime. We named her that as we could tell, like the real estate industry, she was destined to crash. She was bony, barely responsive, and just plain sad. No interest in water (as the lepto animals usually have), no true Stevie Wonder head bobbing (as the DA animals have) and no fight against her sub Q (as sea lions always have). Anyway, she did show seizure spikes on her EEG and also had serious parasites, so she has crossed over the Rainbow Bridge, as they like to say...

Anyway, the day before, on Saturday the 29th, I had the pleasure of picking up Chunky, from Olde Port Beach, a dog beach in Avila. He was being harassed by a big white poodle and pretty much couldn't care less. Being too tired for either fight or flight is a good sign that it's time for a pick up. Though he was far from Chunky, that's what the folks on the beach were calling him, so we went with it. We had a bit of misadventure on this rescue as a gal got our 4WD truck stuck in the sand (cuz she didn't put it in 4WD), but we got unstuck fast. Much quicker than the time I got my own 2WD truck stuck on the same beach (with one seizing animal in the back, and one on the beach...). At least I wasn't driving then and it wasn't my idea, but I shouldn't have handed over my keys... The sad / funny thing is, as we were leaving with Chunky, yet another 2WD truck was stuck in the same soft sand (loaded down with bonfire goodies)... They really ought to post a warning there, or perhaps just a camera for YouTube.

Anyway, on Wednesday the 26th, far from my usual day, I helped with more sloppy seconds. First was Carne Asada, a very stale left over who'd been picked up the 24th. Apparently Carne Asada was scheduled for relocation by Monday crew, but Tuesday crew made the case to keep him since he was the same size as the others they were rescuing that day (and under the 40 kg cut off). Here she is giving that adorable coy, over the shoulder look. Definitely not the skinniest animal of the season, but far from fat and sassy.

The Tuesday sloppy seconds also included Elicious, who seemed very down and crusty. She was easy enough to work with, but clearly not all that photogenic.

They also picked up Slime, who was pretty cute, other than the injured eye (which is not very evident in this picture, you're welcome). I didn't really work with Slime much, and don't know how he got such a disparaging name, but he was much more active than Elicious, which is, of course, a good thing.

Best of all, of course, and the reason I was out to play on a Wednesday, was Stello, the harbor seal I mentioned ditching my husband for. Having done her 8 pm and midnight feeds the night before, how could I not show up for breakfast and to see her off? Unfortunately, Stello was pretty active, so all the photos I've got of her are pretty fuzzy. This is the only one which is entirely in focus. Makes it look like we snuggle up with these cuties, but really she was just being moved from one place to another.

My last legitimate shift before Stello was Friday March 21st when I picked up Brystyn off Moonstone Drive in Cambria. We were supposed to name him Rystyn, but realizing we had a Rustin on site already, we added the B. Brystyn was borderline (alert, good gum color, freshly hauled out) but was destined to be harassed (busy beach) and so I'm glad we abducted him. Besides, he may have been the animal that had been called in the night before on a beach right around the corner. There we found only flipper tracks. And if so, he really wasn't getting very far.

Later that same Friday, on a third trip to Cambria, I got to pick up Hookis, at sunset. It was an easyish rescue and a glorious, purple sunset. Here I must give photo credits to my friend (who went to see her the next morning? or used a flash?) cuz the only shot I have of Hookis was in the pen that evening and my night shots look like crap. Anyway, we nearly left Hookis on watch, as she was pretty short for her weight, but we decided we didn't come all that way just to leave empty handed. Besides, when we went to fetch the carrier, she looked at us with her big bewildered eyes and all too visible neck, seemingly feeling abandoned. I'm extra glad we picked her up as we got to name her for another rescue buddy's sick niece. She's a good specimen for a special name, being on the healthier side of a pick up.

So I believe this leads us back to ... Valet, Hangemhi, Roo and Repo. I think Valet is scheduled for release soon. Hangemhi is still on site. Roo, unfortunately, didn't make it. The only good part about that is that we hadn't named him "Hookis" - something we'd considered as it was the last rescue the gal with the sick niece had gone on... And Repo, well, Repo showed up again the next day, but didn't stick around long enough to be taken back to Monterey. I suspect we'll be seeing him again soonish.

Also, stay tuned for more kitty drama. I just saw a black cat that wasn't my own (no thumbs) in my living room and again under my back deck. And my own black cat just met Rusty, the neighbor cat, in Rusty's yard. Erik reports Monkey was confused that Rusty followed Monkey over to our house for a bit of a chat. Poor Monkey has so much to learn about the real world. And hopefully Wendy has not made it this far, but I'm pretty sure Monkey has also tasted first blood. We found a bird under the bed last week and since it was all of a bird, not just bowel and wing, we figured it couldn't have been OC's catch. In fact, Monkey seemed nonplussed when we showed it to him, so I'm pretty sure that meant, "been there, done that, it's broken, Mom, it doesn't move any more." The gross thing is it was right by Erik's slippers, which is a favorite place for Monkey to hide his cat toys. I'm fairly certain this means the bird has been in the slippers, but Erik would like to believe otherwise.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

last list

Having missed a post on Easter, I owe you a list. I could wax on and on about my recent seal rescues - and believe me, I will, once I get myself organized. But I've been rather busy, so that will take a bit. In fact, I even had a surprise rescue this evening when, while innocently collecting sea glass, I stumbled across a skinny specimen my cohorts had left on watch... I could tell from fifty feet away that he was dangerously underweight. So I made a call and convinced them to let me pick up his starving little 32 kg self. Though I am now infinitely less popular with my friend who had put the seal on watch, I'd happily be in trouble any day if it's what's best for the animal.

Anyway, so tonight's theme is disturbing / amusing things my husband has uttered in the past 24 hours. Here they are in the order quoted:
  1. When I asked if he knew anything about the SVP (Sexually Violent Predator) who had been found dead / presumed murdered at his work the night before, he commented, "Well, he must have been especially annoying."
  2. When talking to his brother about their historically poor performance in school, he noted that he, "got great grades at Cabrillo - a 2.6 GPA."
  3. When I squealed after petting Monkey's belly and accidentally / absent-mindedly encountering his penis, my husband remarked sadly, "Why doesn't that ever happen to me?"
So while none of these comes close to my favorite Erik-ism (fruit is salty), I hope they are a swell list to end on. NaBloPoMo has been well, not fun, annoying really, though I am strangely tempted to start anew. April's theme is the alphabet. I guess I've a couple hours left to be inspired...