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Conditions in grey seal pups (Halichoerus grypus) presented for rehabilitation
  1. J. E. F. Barnett, BSc, BVSc1,1,
  2. A. J. Woodley1,2,
  3. T. J. Hill, VN1,3 and
  4. L. Turner, BSc1,4
  1. 1 National Seal Sanctuary, Gweek, Helston, Cornwall TR12 6UG


A survey was carried out on the condition of 188 live grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) pups presented for rehabilitation from the coasts of south-west England between 1992 and 1998. The survey was carried out to assess the incidence of malnutrition, hyperthermia, respiratory and gastrointestinal conditions, and also the incidence of traumatic, skin, oral and ocular lesions. Malnutrition was a common finding in pups approaching weaning (mid-moult pups) and those at the point of weaning or postweaning (moulted pups) (62 per cent and 82 per cent, respectively). Separation from the dam, believed to be the main cause of malnutrition in grey seals, was encountered frequently in unweaned pups (91 per cent). Thirty-nine per cent of pups presented with a respiratory condition, 38 per cent with hyperthermia and 9 per cent with diarrhoea. Seven per cent and 14 per cent of pups had confirmed respiratory and gastrointestinal parasitic infestations respectively, although these were probably underestimates. Clinically significant traumatic lesions were seen in 41 per cent, oral ulceration in 26 per cent, ocular conditions in 13 per cent, nail bed infections in 13 per cent and oiling in 10 per cent of pups. Umbilical infections and other skin and oral conditions were also encountered. The incidence of these conditions is compared with data from dead grey seals, and clinical conditions in other pinniped species presented for rehabilitation.

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