: Merlot :
Species: Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina)

5-20-11: Merlot was found on the mud flats in Tyonek. She was observed by a local resident who called the pup in to the Alaska SeaLife Center's rehabilitation department.

5-21-11: Merlot is estimated to be only a couple of days old. She still has her umbilicus.

5-24-11: After being tube-fed oral fluids for 24 hours, Merlot has been switched to a milk matrix formula specially designed for young harbor seal pups. She is doing well, and has gained some weight since her admit.

5-31-11: Merlot has been having trouble digesting the Harbor Seal Formula, so today her diet will be switched to a new formula that consists of mashed up fish and essential nutrients.

6-7-11: The past week has been filled with exciting milestones for Merlot. She now spends her days outside in a condo where she can see and hear the other seals. She is being tube fed fish formula, and has already gained over 1 kg. since her admit.

6-10-11: Merlot is stable enough to stay in her condo around the clock!

6-14-11: Merlot continues to do well. Her caretakers report that she is quite the talkative seal, always wanting to get the last "word" in with the other seal pups.

6-18-11: Merlot started fish school today! She's very interested in chasing live fish, but isn't quite sure what to do with them yet.

6-22-11: Merlot still hasn't caught any live fish, but she is trying!

6-28-11: Fish school is slow going for Merlot. She seems to think her fish are friends rather than food.

7-2-11: Although Merlot is now catching and eating live fish, she hasn't started eating dead fish yet - dead herring will be her main diet at the SeaLife Center, so she still has some work to do in fish school.

7-9-11: Another round of fish school started today. Maybe this will be Merlot's lucky week!

7-13-11: Merlot is still working on fish school - no progress yet.

7-16-11: Merlot has been spending some time in Pepperjack's pool lately, with the hopes that she will learn to eat fish by example. So far, no luck.

7-26-11: Merlot is the most aggressive seal in the rehab department. Caretakers always enter her enclosure with a herding board, which acts as a physical and visual barrier between human and seal.

7-30-11: Merlot is now eating fish on her own!

8-10-11: This past week Merlot moved into the pre-release pool, joining Brie, Sangria, Pepperjack and Pinot. She also was fitted with a flipper tag, which will aid in positively identifying her.

8-20-11: Merlot is now one of the top contenders for fish in her pool.

8-26-11: Merlot's caretakers report that she is thriving in the pre-release pool.

8-31-11: Merlot had bloodwork done today - all is well!

9-10-11: Merlot's release date has been set for September 22, at Bishop's Beach in Homer, AK.

9-23-11: Date change!! Merlot and Parmesan will be released together on Friday, September 30 in Homer, AK. It will be a public release at Bishop's Beach at 3:30 pm.

9-30-11: Merlot and Parmesan are off! After making their way out of their kennels, they quickly entered the ocean and swam off together.


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