By Bunni, as told to Mike Casey
Hi, my name is Bunni. I am an elephant seal pup. I was born in February this year, and I lived with my family in the Pacific Ocean near a really nice place called Newport Beach.
Life was good to me. I learned how to swim by exploring the tide pools, I learned where we could find lots of fish, and I had plenty of fun playing in the water and on the rocks with the other seals.
But one day I got separated from my mother. I looked for her everywhere but couldn’t find her. Days went by. I started getting really cold and hungry and thirsty. I got weaker and weaker, and I felt like I was getting sick. I didn’t know what to do.
Finally I decided to go to shore. All I remember is washing up on the sand, and then some people lifting me up and carrying me to a thing that moves really fast and took me to a place where these other people started looking at me and touching me. I remember the date, too. It was March 22. The place was called the Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) in Laguna Beach.
The people at the PMMC weighed me—I was only 77 pounds—and they measured me at 53 inches long. I should have been much bigger. They warmed me up by putting me in a pool of very warm water. Ummm, it felt so good. Once they said my temperature was normal, they dried me with warm towels and then moved me to a place called the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), which had heated floors.
In the ICU they gave me formula like they would give human babies. It was called Pedialyte. I also ate vitamins and supplements and Karo sugar. Then they started putting fish into the formula. They also gave me fluids under my skin to help me with dehydration and gave me tests to make sure I was feeling better.
After a couple of weeks the people started giving me whole fish to eat. They were so good! The people also moved me to a new pool where I could dive on my own. They said I was doing much better. My the middle of May I had gained about 55 pounds and was eating 9½ pounds of fish a day. I also started eating and playing with the other elephant seals there in one of the larger pool areas.
Today I weigh 166 pounds and eat about 12 pounds of fish a day! I feed with seven other elephant seals and we have a great time together. I really like being here, but I also have been thinking about the day when I finally can go back into the ocean. I really miss the ocean.
I want to thank all the people at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, especially Debbie MacCarter, the animal care supervisor, for taking good care of me. And I also want to thank Girl Scout Daisy Troop No. 2421 in Mission Viejo for adopting me and donating money to help care for me through the “Meals for Seals” sponsorship program.
The troop leader, Kim Skinner, told me that part of the Girl Scout Law is to make the world a better place, and the PMMC sponsorship program teaches the girls how litter can harm the oceans and mammals like me who live there. “I feel it is important that we all learn how picking up even a small piece of trash can make the world a better place,” Kim said.
Thank you to all the Daisys at Castille Elementary School: Abbie, Alexis, Ashley, Aspen, Cassy, Emily, Greta, Hailey, Janie, Krystal, Leia, Maylin, Molly, Natalie, Naomi, Roxanne, Samantha and Sara.
Hopefully one day you can help a seal like me.
The "Meals for Seals" Marine Mammal Sponsorship program is a unique way for children to learn about marine mammals. Through donations the program helps provide food and medical treatment for one of the many elephant seal pups or seal lions that come to the center each year. Currently, there is a waiting list for sponsors. Once selected, sponsors are given visitation rights and receive email updates every few weeks on the condition of the marine animal. There are two sponsorship levels: a co-sponsorship for $150 and a sole sponsorship for $600. For more information contact Melissa Sciacca at (949) 494-3050 or visit the web site at http://www.pacificmmc.org and click on “Sponsor Me.”