SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (AP) — A northern fur seal pup was recovering Monday at a marine life rehabilitation center where he is being fed fish smoothies after a harrowing weekend in San Rafael where he was almost hit by a car.
The baby seal was spotted Saturday by police officers near the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge moments after he flapped across the roadway narrowly avoiding being hit by several cars, the San Rafael Police Department said on Facebook.
The seal pup, nicknamed “Ivy,” was rescued by volunteers with the Marine Mammal Center and taken to their facility in Sausalito. The veterinary team there identified the baby seal as a male pup that is severely malnourished likely from being separated from its mother too early.
It was not known how the pup made its way onto San Rafael streets.
“Unlike California sea lions, northern fur seals typically hunt well off the continental shelf in the open ocean, so for this pup to come ashore in San Francisco Bay is a bit of a mystery,” says Dr. Cara Field, medical director at The Marine Mammal Center. “Further diagnostic testing will hopefully shed light on why this pup veered off course before coming ashore during its first year on its own.”
The tiny seal is being tube-fed a fish smoothie mixture three times a day to help it gain weight and being given fluids to help boost hydration, the center said.
Based on the animal’s condition, veterinarians will decide later this week whether to move Ivy from his temporary intensive care pen to a standard rehabilitation pool pen to continue his treatment, it said.
Northern fur seals are typically found 600 miles off the coast and are a threatened species, police said.
Female seals can grow up to five feet and 140 pounds, and male seals can group up to seven feet and 600 pounds, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The seals were historically hunted for their fur. But a 1911 international treaty banned hunting at sea and created guidelines for land hunting. The California population of northern fur seals was estimated at 14,050 in 2016. The California seals breed off the Farallon Islands and San Miguel Island, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The seals spend 300 days a year in the ocean.