News Update for September 2007

Resident Seals
Gigha, our oldest resident has sadly passed away on the 11th of September 2007, just six weeks after giving birth to a healthy pup, christened Lora.

Gigha fell ill on Thursday 6th of September 2007 and the local vet was called immediately. She was prescribed antibiotics and anti-inflammatories for a suspected infection but her condition continued to deteriorate and she refused to eat.
Gigha with Lora
It was decided that as Lora was still attempting to suckle, it would be better for both if she was removed to the seal pup nursery to be weaned by staff. When she is weaned, she will be moved back to the main pools to be with her dad Lorne.

Unfortunately Gigha continued to deteriorate and it was decided that a change of medication could help and so on Monday (10th of September 2007) the vet returned with a new prescription. On Tuesday her condition again deteriorated and she was in need of urgent medical attention. Staff moved her from the pools to the isolation ward and awaited the return of the vet. During this time her breathing became very laboured and she was very listless, shortly after the vets arrival, Gigha passed away peacefully. There was nothing else anyone could do and she was surrounded by the people who loved her.

Cause of death was simply old age with 24 being a very good age for a seal as they would live 15-20 years in the wild. The complication of having and caring for a pup at such a late stage of life did not help and after caring for and suckling Lora for six weeks was simply too much for her. The whole team are devastated by this loss as she was like a member of the family.
Lora, Gigha's pup is doing well she is now eight weeks old and is weaned and back into the main pool with her father Lorne. She is unaffected by the death and will not be hindered by not having her mother present as this would be stage, they would leave their mothers in the wild.

Gigha's long-term partner Lorne will be closely monitored for any signs of stress. He has been looking around for Gigha but now that Lora is in the pool and he is no longer alone he appears unaffected.
Gigha will be sadly missed by many, not only the team here, but also by a great many of our visitors who return again and again. We will shortly be erecting a memorial bench to commemorate Gigha's life. It will be placed on the headland looking out over the loch.

Seal pups
Sadly Jamie has passed away during the night of 13th of August 2007. The loss was very sudden and shocking for the team as he was doing very well. A post mortem was carried out to determine the cause of death. It was found that he had problems digesting his food which lead to it becoming lodged in his windpipe causing him to choke. The team are very saddened by this loss but are also glad that we still have the two girls to look after.

Jelena is doing great! She is taking fish by hand without being forced and even follows the staff around looking cute in an attempt to get more. The next stage for her is to take the fish from the pool for herself and we will be trying this shortly.

Ellen has returned to her feisty roots and is very stubborn when feeding often refusing to open her mouth. The team are persisting with her and we are confident that she will get there in the end.
Another person has joined the animal care which can only be a good thing. As usual Fingal doesn't care as long as he gets food but Sula, is well...Sula. Always standoffish to begin with, she has now become more comfortable with our newest member, Martin, who has joined us from Brighton SEA LIFE Centre.
Martin, our newest member of staff
There has been many spottings of a wild otter over the past few weeks by the members of staff, while having our daily morning meeting there has been a sighting of an otter twice in three days! We assume that it is the same otter as it is frequenting the same area and hopefully it will keep returning for both staff and visitors to enjoy.

Otter rescue
On the morning of 16th of September 2007, the Sanctuary had an unexpected guest in the form of a very cute otter cub. The cub had been brought in by a couple who unfortunately found him dazed at the side of the road near Castle Stalker. The cub took resident in our isolation ward of the seal pup hospital and was taken to the vet the same day for a check.

Upon arrival the cub had very little use of it's back leg and we feared the worst, on advice from the local vets, he was brought back here for 24 hours observation. We are glad to say that by the next day he was a lot more active and after another check up from the vet, he was found to be fine. The cub stayed with us for a few days and progressed well and eating for itself. He has now been transferred to the Broadford Otter Sanctuary on The Isle of Skye where it can be rehabilated and released back into the wild. We wish him well.

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