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Covering 180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Wadport, Yachats & Florence.

It's Fall on the Coast: Summer is Here Again.

Oregon Coast Aquarium Rescues Abused Seal Pup

Rescued female seal at the aquarium

(Newport, Oregon) – Many are calling it a disturbing crime on the central Oregon coast this week, as an alleged drunk driver was pulled over near Florence and discovered to not only have a baby seal in his van, but apparently the man let his dog attack the pup and do considerable harm to it.

September 17, Oregon State Police pulled over 24-year-old Matthew Lane on suspicion of drunk driving. In his car, they found an injured baby harbor seal with multiple puncture wounds and infections, along with a pit bull in the back. Troopers arrested the man for driving under the influence of intoxicants and possession of protected wildlife.

The man told police he was driving around looking for a veterinarian, and that he had rescued the seal from other seals who were attacking it. It is believed the seal pup came from Seal Rock. They also believe the puncture wounds came from the man’s dog.

The seal was then take to the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport.

Aquarium Veterinarian Dr. Steven Brown said when he first examined the female seal she was extremely lethargic with multiple puncture wounds, which appeared to be bites. She also had an elevated white blood cell count and hair loss, which is evidence of trauma.

“The good news was there was no evidence of a fracture,” said Brown, who was called in to assess her condition and prescribe treatment.

Brown prescribed antibiotics for the pup and she began to show signs of improvement after 24 hours. Brown said he has seen situations like this before and the objective is to help the animal recover with as little human interaction as possible.

The seal is sequestered away from the public and encouraged to catch fish on its own.

“Our goal is to release the animal without imprinting so she will socialize with her own species and survive on her own.”


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Brown said the key to success in the pup’s rehabilitation lies with the Aquarium staff. “I can diagnose and prescribe treatment, but it is the dedicated staff at the Aquarium that does all the work—they really care.”

Aquarium Mammalogist Ken Lytwyn, who is among Aquarium staff caring for the pup, said she would have died in a short time if she hadn’t received immediate care. “Her wounds were infected and she was very weak,” said Lytwyn. “But she’s feisty and wants to live.”

Lytwyn said the pup continues to improve with the care she is receiving. She has been eating, gaining weight and her blood work is improving, but the incident is troubling to Aquarium staff.

Aquarium Director of Husbandry, Jim Burke hopes this incident will serve as a deterrent. “We want to let people know that not only is it a bad idea to pick up a stranded seal pup, but it’s illegal and carries a stiff penalty because they are protected under the marine mammal protection act. Most people are well intentioned, but it is still not in the best interest of the animal to pick it up or even go near it.”

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Burke said the Aquarium rehabilitates animals that are injured by human interference, not by natural processes. “It’s important not to interfere with nature. Often a mother will leave her pup on the beach and come back for it later, but if the seal is moved it can become permanently separated from its mother.” Burke said if a marine mammal is obviously injured, people should leave it alone and call the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network at (541) 867-0446 or Oregon State Police at (541) 265-5353.

Burke said if the pup fully recovers the decision to release it will be made by the National Marine Fisheries Service, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Dr. Brown and Aquarium staff. The cost of caring for the pup will be covered by grants from the Kinsman Foundation and the Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation and the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network. The grants were awarded to the Aquarium to help cover the cost of providing urgent care for sick and injured marine mammals and birds.


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In Awe of AstoriaASTORIA
Where the Columbia meets the Pacific, Land of Lewis & Clark and loads of atmosphere & history
Serenity in SeasideSEASIDE
The Promenade, Tillamook Head, family fun & broad, sandy beaches
Cavort in Cannon BeachCANNON BEACH
A mysterious lighthouse, upscale yet earthy, a huge monolith, fine eateries & an art mecca
Annihilating  Beauty of Nehalem BayNEHALEM BAY
Manzanita's beaches, Nehalem and Wheeler's quirky beauty; laid back Rockaway
Time Trip Around Tillamook BayTILLAMOOK BAY
Garibaldi, Barview, Bay City, Tillamook & an oceanfront ghost town
Triple the Pleasure in 3 CapesTHREE CAPES LOOP
The hidden secret of the coast: Cape Meares, a lighthouse, Oceanside, Netarts and Pacific City
Miles & miles of unbroken beaches, Cascade Head, Neskowin and many manmade attractions
Divine Depoe BayDEPOE BAY
A spouting horn downtown, freaky hidden cliffs and whales, whales, whales
Nature in NewportNEWPORT
Time-tripping Nye Beach, a bustling bayfront, marine science-central and two lighthouses
Staggering Seal RockWALDPORT / SEAL ROCK
Pristine, even secretive sands and wild geologic landmarks
Aargh, there's no alliteration with Yachats - but it IS unbelievableYACHATS
Constantly dramatic wave action, a mix of the rugged & upscale
Unsurpassable Upper LaneUPPER LANE COUNTY
25 miles of deserted beaches & oodles of wonders
Fine Times in FlorenceFLORENCE
A lighthouse, ancient bayfront and miles and miles of fluffy dunes

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