Left, a weak fur seal is tube fed. Right, Jasper Johns in his pen.
The Marine Mammal Center has started getting in northern fur seal patients lately, and if the condition of these malnourished specimens is any indication, we may see more arriving in the next period. Already, there are 5 fur seals currently being treated on site, 1 on his way, a few that have died in past weeks, and 1 very small and sick fur seal that unfortunately died today. "Jasper Johns" as he was nicknamed, was so weak and ill that he had to be tube fed. Unfortunately, his body could not hold out. He had a seizure this morning and died shortly thereafter.
The Center sees a spike in the number of fur seal patients it rescues in some years, but it's unknown exactly what causes this spike and what factors are affecting their health and/or normal feeding patterns in the wild.
In the mean time, veterinarians and volunteers have their hands full caring for this unique species. Fur seals are small and often appear to be harmless, but in fact, can be extremely aggressive and quick. With razor sharp teeth, they really keep their caretakers on their toes!
Fur seals are actually in the same family as sea lions, rather than seals, because they have external ear flaps and can walk on their hind flippers, so their name is somewhat of a misnomer. Learn more about northern fur seals here.