Rescued Seal Back in the Wild After Recovering From Eye Surgery in Seattle


Harvey, a harbor seal rescued in Bellingham this summer, was released back into the wild Wednesday after recovering from an eye surgery done in Seattle.

Marine wildlife hospital SeaLife Response, Rehabilitation and Research released him from Seafarer's Memorial Park in Anacortes.

Harvey was the second seal the hospital released after rescuing and caring for him following an eye surgery. The other seal — Frank — was released in October.

Both seals were found abandoned this summer, according to the group, who said the pups were only a few days old when they believe they were abandoned by their mothers.

Frank was found in Port Townsend by the Marine Mammal Stranding Network in late June with signs of a premature birth. Harvey was brought in after he was found in July in Bellingham with an umbilical cord still attached.

Both seals had "severe upper-eyelid trauma" from unknown causes and required surgery from the Veterinary Specialty Center of Seattle. Initial procedures to fix the seals' eyes were unsuccessful due to significant trauma, according to the hospital. Ultimately the injured eyes had to be removed.

Mark Garneau, the head of the surgery department at the Veterinary Specialty Center, performed the procedure in September. Each operation took around an hour and a half with both seals under anesthesia for several hours.

"Operating on a seal is not at all like operating on a cat or dog. There are a lot of other factors that come into play," Garneau said in a news release Wednesday. "While our primary goal was to treat the seals' injuries, it was of paramount importance that we do so in a timely manner to minimize the time these seals spent out of the wild."

To ensure they were prepared for life in the wild, the two seals were transferred to a larger pool at the facility, where they interacted and competed with other harbor seals for food before their release.

Frank was released on Oct. 11, and Harvey needed additional recovery time due to minor complications.

SeaLife Response, Rehabilitation and Research has had 35 seal pups in their care since the summer, with four requiring surgeries, according to the news release.