We have a sad update to this story. The young Guadalupe fur seal pup that was flown to the Bay Area from the Seattle-area has died. Read more here
MARIN COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — A Piper Saratoga arrived at Petaluma Municipal Airport carrying a precious cargo from the Pacific Northwest.
Inside this dog crate was a sick and malnourished Guadalupe fur seal pup.
The story began last week near Seaside, Oregon, not far from the mouth of the Columbia River.
Guadalupe fur seals are named for their rookeries on Guadalupe Island, about 200 miles off the coast of Baja, Mexico.
This one was found 1,400 miles from home.
“It’s possible that spreading up to southern Oregon, a little bit into Washington could just be part of their natural range. They do cover hundreds of miles but when we see them in this condition we know it’s a bad news, bad news situation,” Casey McLean said.
He weighed less than 16 pounds. That’s less than half what a year old pup should weigh.
He was taken to the nearby Seaside Aquarium and then turned over to a marine mammal team near Seattle.
“We picked up this animal, met the folks in Oregon and brought it back to Gig Harbor, Washington at a facility at World Vets that was able to triage the animal. Hold the animal for a couple of days. SR3 and World Vets worked together to create a treatment plan and keep this animal healthy until we were able to arrange transport to Sausalito, California at the Marine Mammal Center,” McLean said.
The drive from Seattle to Marin County is at least 13 hours, which would be especially tiring for a malnourished young seal.
So the team reached out to another organization called Turtles Fly 2 and hooked up with a pilot from Oregon, Dave Sutton.
“He rode like a champ and mostly slept and was very cute doing it,” Sutton said.
What would have been an all day drive was shortened to less than four hours.
But flying conditions were less than ideal for Sutton and his copilot.
“Some ice and some turbulence and the turbulence got to the little guy a bit,” Sutton explained.
The Marine Mammal Center Team arrived to pick up Sunny, now named Soleado – that’s Sunny in Spanish.
“We’ve been able to continue to give him nutrition so he’s getting fed a couple times a day and because he was stable enough to move up into one of our pools we’ve been giving him access to the pools, the salt water pools and he has been loving getting some swim time,” McLean said.