The Journey To The Centre
Kadiddlehopper was unaware of what her journey was about to unfold. At the Centre, Kadiddlehopper was treated like royalty. She was waited on hand and foot by veterinary experts and staff at the Centre. They even made her special food: yummy smoothies with ground-up herring, vitamins, salmon oil and medicine to help her gain weight and get healthy. She had her own bed to lay in and a complimentary pass for the pool. Everyone was so attentive to her. Kadiddlehopper was only a little over 10 pounds when she arrived at the Centre but she didn't know what all the fuss was about. She didn't know that she was very tiny and under weight for her age of only a few months. Kadiddlehopper didn't have much experience catching her own food and she was still drinking milk from her Mom as she wasn't ready to be weaned. She didn't really know what being a seal pup was all about.
Healing At The Centre
Kadiddlehopper didn't want to complain that the only thing missing at the Centre was her family, especially her Mom that she missed who had cared for her so well in the ocean. You see when seal pups grow, their Moms wean them not because they don't love them, but because they do. They want their pups to be able to take care of themselves in case something happens to their Moms. But Kadiddlehopper's Mom knew something was wrong. She knew her pup was not gaining weight and searching for food even at her young age. She continued to care for her, love her and guide her. Kadiddlehopper's Mom worried about her day in and day out.
While searching for food in the ocean one day, she met up with Spiderpig, a former patient at the Marine Mammal Centre in California. As she was wiping a tear away, he felt her concern off in the distance and came over to find out what was wrong. He told Kadiddlehopper's Mom his story and about other seals that had been to a place called the "Marine Mammal Centre in California" and how they had returned to the ocean after receiving such great care. The other seals loved staying at the Centre too but really longed to get back into the ocean to frolic and play with their families. For no matter how far away a seal is from their family, they will find their way back home again. Like radar, their flippers steer them off in the right direction. He told her there were some folks in the area that would care enough to take Kaldiddlehopper to the Centre to get special treatment to get healthy. They both knew the Centre would know that Northern Fur Seals don't just lay around on the beach all day unless they are sick. He encouraged her to find the courage inside her heart to send Kaldiddlehopper so she could return back home healthy.
So one day, when she gathered up all her courage and hope, Kadiddlehopper's Mom swam with her to a sandy beach she had heard about. With all her love, she lead Kadiddlehopper up on shore and assured her she would wait in the ocean to make sure she was in good hands. She explained to her every crevice in the ocean that she would need to know on her trip back home and all the tips she learned from Spiderpig's stories about the other seals that were at the Centre. She called to Kadiddlehopper as she bobbed up and down in the waves to let her know she was watching over her . She watched as the rescuers came to help her bundle so small. She wanted to rush up and given them instructions on how Kadiddlehopper spends her day but they were gentle and quick to rush her away. And that is how we came to know Kadiddlehopper. It's because her Mom loved her so.
Well, Kadiddlehopper was happy to be taken care of but she missed her Mom so much she didn't show much excitement at the Centre. Sure she ate food and did what seals do, but she slept alot. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months that Kadiddlehopper was at the Centre. All the good folks at the Centre wished "fat" wishes for Kadiddlehopper because a seal needs to be fat to properly dive and swim and withstand the cold in the ocean. They wished "fat" wishes so hard that some of the fat wishers even started to themselves gain weight!
Now every time a seal has been rehabilitated they return to the ocean and they tell the other seals all about their time at the Centre. Fructus, another young Northern Fur Seal pup, met up with Spiderpig one day. Spiderpig was telling Frutus about other seals that were at the Centre and hoping that Fructus would agree to go there because all the seals could see that Fructus was too thin for a seal. Although seals can live far apart, the ocean is but a swim away from each other. No roads to get lost on, just wide open waves to coast in on. Spiderpig didn't actually know Kadiddlehopper personally, but he did know other seals that met her and he thought that Fructus might have met Kadiddlehopper one day in the ocean since they were both Northern Fur Seals.
Sealed With Love
Fructus' eyes lit up when he heard Kadiddlehopper's name. Their Mothers were friends from way back in they day. Fructus had a seal crush on Kadiddlehopper since the first time his big, deep, dark eyes met hers. Fructus started chattering on and on about how he loved Kadiddlehopper's whiskers that flowed and whisked around her face when she barked, how her tiny ears peeked out and how her coat looked so slick in the ocean waters. But most of all he loved how her tiny nose was shaped like a tiny heart and how he got lost in her eyes every time she looked into his eyes.
After Fructus heard Kadiddlehopper was at the Centre, he was excited. That was all he needed to seal the deal. He was so excited he made his way to Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, south of San Francisco, USA. He started out swimming there but was so tired and weak that the waves ended up carrying him and landing him to safety where he was rescued. He too was young and underweight for his age but he was about to be a feisty new addition at the Centre. A male fur seal pup can weigh 12 pounds at birth and can grow to a weight of up to 385-605 pounds as an adult. Fructus has a long way to go.
Being a bit excited and active when he arrived he could not contain himself and started making noises calling out for Kadiddlehopper until he met up with her. Not only did he show enough excitement for the both of them in the pool, he got carried away showing Kadiddlehopper how to eat that he ate for the two of them. He knew they would one day meet up again and he was proud to be spending time with her again. He was a bit older than her so he showed her seal tricks on how to keep their furry bear like coats all shined up and clean and slick. Their coats are important to keep them warm in the ocean, especially when the waters get colder in the winters when the sun is not as hot to warm up top layers of the waves that reach down towards the ocean floors. He even created their own seal code language so only the two of them know what they are saying when others are around. They will forever share a special bond.
Fructus and Kadiddlehopper are still recuperating and spending time together at the Centre. They eat together, swim together and groom together while making plans to spend more time together when they return to the ocean. Their dreams include long swims in the ocean, getting home to see their Moms, spreading the word about the Centre and cuddling up watching the sunset.
Although Northern Fur Seals are considered “depleted” under the Endangered Species Act, Fructus and Kadiddlehopper plan to grow old and fat together. They plan to start a family of their own to spread their love and tell their seal pups tales about how they vacationed at the Marine Mammal Centre in California in 2015 on Valentine's Day.
To learn more about Northern Fur Seals, visit the Marine Mammal Centre's Northern Fur Seal web page.
If you find a seal that you think needs rescuing, click here on what you can do to help.
by Maria Lisa Polegatto
February 9, 2015