RESIDENT SEALS UPDATES FOR 2004 / 2005
Update: November 2005
Lorne and Gigha have completed their moult. They are both looking stunning in their handsome black and silver coats.
Lorne is taking advantage of our new member of staff, Tom. They are currently engaged in battle to see who can make the most noise at the seal feeds. Tom on the radio microphone or Lorne growling loudly over the top of him. However, Lorne will have to remember who holds the bucket of fish, as it is not a behaviour we wish to encourage. Gigha is enjoying autumn, is feeding well and is very playful and active.
We are due to do the annual health check on the adults. This involves weighing them, which will give us an indication of their general condition and tells us how well these OAP seals are fairing. We also blood sample the adults, which is no easy task, requiring no less than 8 people to hold Lorne and Gigha safely while the needle is injected into their spine. This may sound like a horrid stressful process to put the seals through but it is necessary, quick and simple with no after effects. The blood sample will tell us how the seal´s major organs are working and if there are any problems arising.
Update: July 2005
Both Lorne and Gigha celebrated their 22nd birthdays in July. It was a very special week for the staff, who laid on birthday cake for all the visitors to the seal pools. Lorne is not looking at his best at the moment as he has begun his annual moult. He has a green beard! Algae is growing in the fur on his chin and this is making him appear even more comical than usual. The fur will gradually fall out and be replaced by his new resplendent coat in about a month´s time. As usual Gigha looks dreadful as she moults. Her fur has all but gone from her back leaving her with a long black stripe of skin showing, however, we must just be patient as her new fur will grow through in the next few weeks and she will then return to her gorgeous silver and black mottled self. In the last couple of months Gigha has been very much more relaxed with the female seal care staff. Historically she has always been a bit shy of women. She is even jumping on to the haul out next to the girls on the animal care staff and playing with fish that are being hand fed to her.
Update: April 2005
Lorne has been in good spirits lately and his playful side is coming to the fore. We expected him to become grumpier and less tolerant as he aged but he appears to have mellowed this year. He has enjoyed the pups company over this extended season and he is still able to leap out the water as though he was 21 months old and not 21 years.

Gigha is also very active and is leaping for fish as long as a man presents them! She and Lorne are playing together a lot at the moment including a fish stealing game that results in them halving every herring between them. The next few months will hopefully see a quiet period in the outdoor pools that will permit maintenance work. Resurfacing areas that are normally underwater will mean that Lorne and Gigha will be confined to one or other of the pools, which may sound less than ideal, but is a change in their environment, which can itself, be a form of enrichment.
Update: January 2005
The arrival of the common seal pups and more recently the grey pups has not phased either Lorne or Gigha at all. They continue to show the young pups that there is more to life than the nursery and weaning pool. With demonstrations in feeding, acrobatic swimming techniques, good manners and hierarchy they are an invaluable part of the rehabilitation programme here at the sanctuary.
Lorne and Gigha are both advanced in years (21 may not sound old, but it´s a good age for a common seal) and are both in good health. This in part is probably down to the annual influx of energetic pups that help to keep them moving in pursuit of their food and maintain their zest for life.
Update: October 2004
At the end of July Gigha gave birth to a healthy female pup. Eventually we named her Jura after another west coast island. She nursed her pup for five weeks, after which time Jura was weaned from Gigha´s milk. Gigha lost a fair bit of weight while she was nursing her pup but she is now eating around 2.5kg of herring everyday and is certainly looking plumper. She is now the grand age of 21 and has done well to have reared another pup (her 8th).
Lorne is his usual demanding self, snorting and growling till he gets the herring that he wants. He is eating around 1.5kg of fish a day and is doing just fine. It is not only his appetite for herring that has been healthy. Gigha has received a lot of amorous attentions from Lorne over the last couple of months. Since she gave birth to Jura Lorne has regarded her as fair game. Gigha has as usual had to deal with it as best as she can, swapping pools to avoid Lorne and perching herself on the ledges that he is too fat or clumsy to reach. Since their moult Lorne and Gigha are both looking gorgeous in their new black and silver shiny coats, and Lorne´s ardour has thankfully cooled.
 
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