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Lillian Boyd, Dana Point Times

An elephant seal named Peppermint was found malnourished at Doheny Beach on December 29.

According to Pacific Marine Mammal Center, it is rare to see elephant seals at all in Orange County, and especially rare to see one in need of rescue this time of year.

“This little guy came very dehydrated with cookie cutter shark bites,” stated a PMMC press release. “And (Peppermint) is now resting comfortably at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.”

During the course of rehabilitation, animals require a variety of treatments, such as administration of antibiotics and subcutaneous fluids, tube feeding, force feeding, wound care and more.

Most animals come in dehydrated, and the most effective means to provide fluids and nourishment is through tube feeding, according to PMMC. The process requires blending of fish, electrolytes, warm water, vitamins, and medication into a fish formula. This formula is fed to the animals by inserting a flexible tube into the stomach using large syringes. As soon as the animals are hydrated and stable, they are weaned to eat whole fish.

Once an animal has gained an optimal weight and is competing for food, it’s ready for release.

Prior to release, each animal is tagged with an identification number. The color-coded tags indicate the animal has been rehabilitated and helps identify the specific animal and care center in case the animal needs care in the future.

To make a donation in support of PMMC or to learn more information, visit pacificmmc.org.

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