SeaWorld rescues harbor seal with neck stuck in gill net

SAN DIEGO — A harbor seal with the most severe neck wound that Sea World’s rescue team had ever seen was returned to the ocean after undergoing rehabilitation at the San Diego theme park.

The female seal was rescued from the La Jolla Children’s Pool on June 29. A gill net embedded into the animal’s neck was only centimeters from her vertebrae, according to Eric Otjen, SeaWorld’s assistant curator of mammals.

“We checked out her wound and it was really deep,” he said. “The net was cutting into her neck to the point we couldn’t see the line anymore.”

The female seal was rescued from the La Jolla Children’s Pool on June 29. A gill net embedded into the animal’s neck was only centimeters from her vertebrae.

The seal was brought to SeaWorld to be examined and have the net removed, then began a rehabilitation regimen that included antibiotics, cold laser therapy and medicinal honey treatments.

The seal was brought to SeaWorld to be examined and have the net removed, then began a rehabilitation regimen that included antibiotics, cold laser therapy and medicinal honey treatments.

“Her rehabilitation went very smoothly,” said Tres Clarke with the rescue team. “She was in the water the second day and even eating live fish.”

The marine mammal was returned to the ocean July 9 with two other rescued and rehabilitated seals.

Though the wound wasn’t fully healed, experts thought it was in the animal’s best interest to return to the ocean, as they didn’t want her to become too accustomed humans and she had already demonstrated hunting ability, Otjen said.

“As soon as she got into the water, she started exploring her surroundings right away,” he said.