The units in phase 1 can be completely sealed off from the outside world, and from each other. You can think of them as quarantines. We can close them if we want to prevent diseases from spreading from one seal to the others.
We can also control the temperature and light in these units. This keeps the seal warm and allows it to rest in the dark.
It is stressful for a seals to have many other seals around them, especially if they are is sick. This is why we never have more than two seals per unit at this stage. This also reduces the chances of transmitting diseases.
In these units, we can put fences between the platform and the pool, so that the seal cannot reach the water. This is necessary because the patients here are still very weak. In the beginning, it is important that the seal rests and gains strength.
After a while, they will get stronger and may try to swim. At first, only for a few minutes. Does that go well? Then they are allowed to swim a little longer. Eventually, the gate stays open all day and the seal can decide for herself when to enter the water. The pools in phase 1 are small, as the seal care nurses need to be able to get the animals out of the water easily.
The seal care nuses and volunteers clean all units thoroughly every day. In phase 1, the walls, floors, fences and sink are scrubbed and disinfected every morning. The pool is also emptied, disinfected and refilled with clean water. Because the seals defecate and urinate a lot, it is very important that this is done daily.
We feed the seals in phase 1 four times a day. The first feeding is at 07.00 in the morning. At first, the seals are not yet given fish by the seal care nurses. As they are not yet strong enough to digest a whole fish, we always start with a special porridge of ground salmon and water. This porridge contains many fats and important nutrients that the seal needs to gain strength. The seals are therefore usually given medicine in their food a few times a day.
After the first week, the seal is usually strong enough to start eating real fish. The seal care nurses feed the fish by hand, because most of the time the seal does not want to eat it by itself. We still give fish porridge twice a day, but the other two feedings consist of fish. Often, the seal is also allowed to swim briefly during cleaning and at feedings.
Did you know...
In the wild seals don't drink water? They live in the sea, so the water there is much salty to drink. Drinking seawater would be incredibly bad for them! Instead, seals get the moisture they need from the prey they eat.