Observation by Breanna Greichen with help from Jaclyn Christensen:
My niece Breanna Greichen was on a ATV ride 1/4-1/2 way down the beach length toward Hook Lagoon from the village of Port Heiden. They noticed this seal with patchy fur and sickly looking. Noted on November 5, 2022
Comment by LEO Network editors:
We have shared this observation with the Environmental Health Department from Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation (BBAHC), and with Marine Advisory Program agents from UAF Sea Grant, ADFG, and North Slope Borough Wildlife. Mike Brubaker
Comment from Gay Sheffield:
This young seal visually looks similar to the symptoms experienced by all 4 species of ice seals (bearded, ribbon, ringed, spotted) during the 2011-2016 Ice Seal Unusual Mortality Event (UME) [https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/alaska/marine-life-distress/diseased-ice-seals-and-unusual-mortality-events]. Additional data would be very useful. During 2022, we've only had one report in the Bering Strait region of a seal with trouble growing its coat. This animal was reported by the public to UAF Alaska Sea Grant in Nome. This report was immediately shared with NOAA Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Network. The young ringed seal involved (STR-228-22) was reported as active, alert, but with patchy fur growth - and it was hauled out near the Bonanza bridge (eastern Safety Sound) on 18-Oct-2022. Please let me know if you have any questions or need any other info from this end of things. I recommend including NSB-DWM Wildlife Veterinarian Raphaela Stimmelmayer (Utqiagvik) who was the On-Site Coordinator for the 2011-2016 response. During that UME event, we had 100's of reports in the Bering Strait region and surrounding area. Additional symptoms at that time (besides the ability to not grow their annual new coat) were the seals being "tired"/approachable, not eating well, and (in some cases) had raised circular fluid-filled skin lesions on the flipper webbing, eyes/facial area, and/or "armpits". Thank you to whomever in Port Heiden that reported and documented this seal and thank you for sharing it.
Comment by Barbara Mahoney:
Thanks for this. I have not received this report. NMFS does not consider this a stranded animal, but we do keep track of marine mammals that are unusual, out of habitat (without a response), or physical conditions worth monitoring.
If you see a stranded, injured, entangled, or dead marine mammal, call the NOAA Fisheries Alaska Statewide 24-hour Stranding Hotline: (877) 925-7773. See website attached. You can learn more about how you can properly help marine mammals in need.