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Alaska SeaLife Center



Phoca hispida

On September 19, 2000 Dr. Bob Small, Marine Mammal Coordinator with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, found a young female ringed seal, during a cruise on the research vessel Last Frontier in Bristol Bay. Dr. Small and his crew noticed the ringed seal hauled out with a group of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina). Ringed seals usually spend summer months further north and they are not normally social with harbor seals. The crew noticed several hairless patches on her back, abdomen and hind flippers. They contacted the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) and then brought her aboard the vessel to transport her to the ASLC rehabilitation department.

The ringed seal, Lacy, was placed in quarantine at ASLC and given a physical exam. The hairless patches were examined. A skin biopsy and fungal test were performed and a blubber sample was taken to measure potential contaminant levels. Blood samples were taken to obtain a complete blood cell count, serum chemistries, thyroid hormone levels and heavy metals. After the examination, it was determined that Lacy was suffering from a fungal infection known as dermatomycosis (ringworm). She was placed on oral anti-fungal medication and bathed in betadine, which was effective against the fungus.

After Lacy was declared fungus free, she was placed in an outdoor pool where she stretched her flippers until the time of her release. On Monday, December 18, a satellite transmitter was glued to the fur of Lacy's back. By placing a satellite tag on Lacy, rehabilitation staff and researchers could follow her movements for a few months. They were interested in learning more about ringed seal diving habits, feeding habits and migration patterns.

Lacy was flown to Egegik, Alaska on Wednesday, December 21,st accompanied by ASLC staff members Dr. Natalie Noll, and Jim Pfeiffenberger. Lacy was flown to Egegik Beach on the Alaska Peninsula. After spending 2 1/2 months in the Alaska SeaLife Center's rehabilitation department it was time for Lacy to return to the sea.