Ula ('Jewel of the Sea') was found on July 5th by a neighbour, stranded on the shore at Killyleagh, just round the corner from Tara Seal Research. She was alone, tiny (only 7 kg - the normal birth weight is ~11kg) and exhausted. We kept her in an indoor dry bath that first evening - and close to midnight her sudden noisy breathing resulted in an emergency dash to the vet, who diagnosed pneumonia and gave her antibiotics. The next day she was well enough to go outside and swim in the paddling pool - although we had to keep rushing her indoors due to violent hail storms - with hail the size of small golf balls!
Ula in the bath on the day of her arrival
On the evening of July 7th we received another call about a stranded pup near to the pupping site we monitor regularly - way above the high tide mark, nestled in the grass beside the road opposite the house of the people who called us! Earendil ('Boy Lover from the Sea') was also tiny at 7kg, but was in better condition than Ula, and more recently born, judging by his umbilical stump.
Earendil in the grass beside the road near St John's Point, Dundrum bay
Since we didn't get Earendil home until late at night, we kept him inside overnight and didn't introduce him to Ula the next morning.
From top left - Ula still alone at 11am on July 8th; 'keeping a respectful distance' after Earendil (right) introduced (2pm); Ula (right) follows Earendil and they engage in mutual nose contact (4pm); Ula (right) climbs on to trampoline beside Earendil and starts to suckle on him.
From that moment on, the pups were inseparable. The yard was about 6m long with a mini trampoline at each end that the pups usually used to sleep on with a paddling pool at one end and a bath at the other. Both pool and path werealways kept topped up with clean water. As all our other pup pairs in the past have done, Ula and Earendil slept together and followed each other as they moved between the two ends of the yard and in and out of the water.Interestingly the pups not only follow each other closely, as a pup in the wild would do towards it mother, but the pup in front would usually check that the other pup is following and wait for it - this is similar to the behaviour of a mother towards her pup.