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Endoscopy in a common seal

Seal Destructor had to be rescued twice. The first time he was a victim of a lungworm infection. The second time because he swallowed a fishing hook. A swallowed fishing hook can cause major problems. It is therefore necessary to act quickly. In the case of Destructor, an endoscopy had to be performed. The fishing hook was traced and removed with a small camera and a grabber. We tell you how this went.

zeehond destructor verstrikt

First time rehabilitation at the Sealcentre

For the first time, he was a typical patient: he suffered from lungworms and breathing problems. We are experienced in taking care of lungworm patients and with the right medical attention he was soon back on his feet. He got the name Destructor because he was very fierce towards our caretakers during this first rehabilitation period. It is and remains a predator of course. Fortunately, he was soon released.

Entangled in fishing line at Noordwijk

A few months later, we received a report from our seal guard in Noordwijk. The report concerned a seal entangled in fishing lines. Seal guard Kees Kooimans was able to free the animal from a few fishing nets but these had left deep wounds. Kees also suspected that the seal had swallowed a fishing hook. Therefore, the animal was brought to the Sealcentre. Once here, we could tell by the tag in one of his back flippers that it was the seal Destructor. Not much was left of his fierce behavior.


X-rays were taken of Destructor. And unfortunately Kees was right: Destructor had swallowed a fish with a fishing line with several hooks attached to it. The photos showed that there were hooks deep into the esophagus. The vets had to quickly decide what the best next course of action was and what Destructor's chance of recovery was. The hooks had not pierced the esophagus, making Destructor's chance of recovery very high.

Emergency endoscopy

The same day at 11:00 PM, the vets were in the operating room. They had enlisted the help of gastroenterologist Klaas van der Linde and nurse Nynke Vennema-Zwaagstra. The fish hooks had to be removed by means of an endoscopy. With a small camera and a grabber, the vet goes through the mouth and throat into the esophagus of the seal.

They have an image through the camera and the hooks can be removed with the grabber. By using this method, a seal does not need surgery. Surgery always involves additional risks. The vets performed the endoscopy successfully and both hooks were removed. After the procedure, Destructor was taken to the intensive care unit to rest further.

endoscopie door een endoscoop

Further recovery and release

In the beginning, Destructor needed intensive help (phase 1). There was significant damage to his esophagus and that makes it difficult to eat. After a month, he was able to eat fish again without help. Green light to move it to a larger bath. From that moment on, things went fast and after a stay of about 1.5 months Destructor was ready to return to the Wadden Sea. Where he belongs.