In 2007 we found again only one young pup in Dundrum Bay that needed our help. All the pups at Minerstown were healthy and with their mothers. However, we found a pup, whom we called Dana, on July 3rd at Ballykinler.

We found Dana on July 3rd at Ballykinler, while doing a regular count of seal and pup numbers there. Dana was at the top of the beach, a little away from the main colony, and lying beside a much larger and healthy-looking pup, whose mother was probably out at sea fishing. It is always a bad sign if a newborn pup is lynig beside an older pup - it means the pup has been permanently separated from its own mother and it is, in extremis, latching on to the nearest thing it can find to a mother figure. Since that part of the beach is quite hard to reach and return from, carrying a struggling pup, the army base at Ballykinler very kindly assisted us with a heavy duty truck. We were therefore able to reach the pup, check its condition - which was indeed bad - catch the pup, and carry it away in the truck - and all without disturbing the rest of the seal colony. The larger pup made its way back to the sea after we had rescued Dana.


Dana just after her arrival at TSR on July 3rd evening. The milk around her mouth is because she has just been fed.

The red, painful-looking eyes were just that - a severe infection in both eyes. The prone position in which she is lying on the trampoline indicates that she is unwell. The following morning the vet diagnosed pneumonia as well, and she was immediately put on an antibiotic course and a antibiotic eye drops. She weighed 9.75 kg - a little under normal birth weight of around 11 kg.

After two days on the medication and regular feeds, however, she was quite unrecognisable as the miserable scrap from Ballykinler three days previously!

Dana on July 6th (left), about to enter the pool (July 9th) and playing with a plastic bottle (July 9th).

Dana never looked back after her intial rapid recovery. Her pneumonia cleared in a few days, although she continued to have antibiotic eye drops until her release. Her eyes always bulged slightly, and the vet eventually decided it was her natural condition - her less kind human friends started to call her 'Pop-eye'! She was a very docile pup and easy to handle, although - in the absence of another pup - she never sought our company to the same extent as did our other 'single' pups, Maris (2004) and Lora (2006). She thrived, however, and displayed regular joie-de-vivre in the paddling pool, and later in the bigger pool. She gained weight steadily, reaching 12 kg after one week and 14 kg after two weeks.


Dana enjoying a splash (left) and consulting the Seal Conservation Society Library (right)

Dana doing her exercises as the large pool fills


Dana having her ID tag (with email address) glued on to the fur of her head and a paint mark 'D' painted on to the fur of her back; then relaxing afterwards in the pool (August 7th 2007)

Dana was finally released at Ballykinler on August 7th, weighing 19.5 kg, just five weeks from her rescue. She was our fourth pup to be released with no tracking device (the other three were Emil and Silver (2005) and Lora (2006)), since we had no funding for the small satellite tags.

Dana's release to the sea at Ballykinler, August 7th 2007.

There have been no sightings of Dana since her release. Since she was ostentatiously marked, and was 'wearing' our email address on her head tag, we would have been notified if she had stranded. We therefore hope she is now living a happy life within our harbour seal population, probably somewhere between Dundrum Bay and Dublin.