Harbour Seal Undergoes Rare Eye Treatment

21 Aug 2012

A Pacific harbor seal recently rescued by SeaWorld has undergone cataract removal surgery in California. SeaWorld veterinarians and animal rescue team hope the surgery will restore her eyesight enough so that she can forage for food on her own and eventually be returned to the wild.

The young harbor seal, estimated to be four months old, was rescued by SeaWorld on South Mission Beach after she was found dehydrated and malnourished.  During an initial exam, SeaWorld’s animal rescue team noticed cataracts in both eyes and later determined that she was functionally blind and could not catch fish.

At the time of her stranding, she was about 30 percent underweight, presumably because her lack of vision prevented her from foraging for food.

The surgery was successful and the harbor seal is recovering in the park’s animal care centre.  SeaWorld’s animal care team is monitoring her closely, putting drops in her eyes, hand feeding her, and, for the first few days keeping her out of the water until the incisions in her eyes have healed.

Well-developed pups usually measure up to 100 cm (39 in.), weigh 12 kg (1.8 st) and will nurse for four to six weeks.

If this pup gains sufficient eye sight to catch live fish, the seal is likely to be returned to the wild.

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