A common seal with a white coat

Occasionally, during the comoon seal birthing season, we see pups in the rehablitiation centre that have white fur. We don't see this often, because a white coat means that the common seal was born prematurely. Seal Pupart was also such a seal. A special case for us!

premature gewone zeehonden pup

A premature seal pup in rehabilitation

Seal Pupart was a premature seal found near Vliehors on Vlieland. Pupart weighed barely 7 kilos upon arrival at the Sealcentre. The average birth weight of a puppy is about 8 kilos. He also still had his white 'baby fur'. We call this coat lanugo. Normally, a common seal pup loses this fur in the womb. Pupart was therefore born prematurely.

The pup was observed by seal guard Willem. Unfortunately, there was no sign of another seal mother in the area. Pupart was too young to take care of himself and was therefore brought to the centre.

Same as with humans, seals born prematurely are very vulnerable. Everything can still go wrong. For example, it may be that the intestines are not yet well developed and can therefore not process the food properly.

Behaviour of seal pups

Pupart was very small upon arrival. He therefore needed a lot of rest. He shared an enclosure with one other pup: Zoom. Despite his size, Pupart made a lot of noise! He was a noisy puppy.

Pups suck a lot at and on each other. At this age, they would get milk from their mother. Instead, they get salmon porridge at us. Pupart received this four times a day. Because Pupart was so small, he couldn't eat much. That is why the caretakers often gave salmon porridge in smaller portions. The portions grew along with Pupart. Eventually he could eat whole fish.

Hunting instinct of a seal

After two months of growing and gaining energy, it was time for seal Pupart to return to the Wadden Sea. When a seal pup is released, it must hunt and eat independently. Then instinct takes over.

This also happens in nature; a mother stays with her pup for only four weeks and then leaves. In this month, a pup does not learn how to hunt fish from its mother. This is a natural instinct that seals have. Pupart quickly mastered hunting.

Rehablitiation for the second time

But a few months after the release, a report came from The Hague. It was a seal with several small wounds and a deep cut under its jaw. The seal had a number in its flipper. We could see that it was Pupart. It was unclear how he got the wound.

Dierenambulance Den Haag brought Pupart to Pieterburen and there he received the care he needed. We cleaned and cared for his wounds very well. Pupart was a little weakened. His weight was under 20 kilos and that was on the light side for his age.

All's well that ends well

Pupart's recovery was very difficult in the beginning. He didn't react well and couldn't keep his food in. After a few days, he started to improve and in the weeks that followed, Pupart got better and better. He managed to eat by himself, so he gained a lot of weight. This is important for a seal, because it builds up reserves for when it is allowed to go back to the sea. After a two-month recovery, Pupart was released with a healed wound. All's well that ends well!

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