First there was a boy named Sue; now there's Floodgate Dolly. The tiny harbor seal pup that was rescued from San Francisco Bay by Palo Alto Animal Services on April 9 turns out to be male, according to Jim Oswald, a spokesman for the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito.
But Floodgate Dolly, who was named because he was caught against the Mayfield Slough flood gate at high tide and was thought to be a female, won't get a name change, Oswald said. He'll still be called "Dolly."
It probably won't make a difference to the 14-pound pup, who is still being tube fed and continues to live with another young seal named Bogey for company. For now, the black-and-silver pup concentrates on taking in his nourishment and trying to put on weight.
Floodgate Dolly is the smallest seal at the rescue center, Oswald said. He weighs half of what a normal, five-week-old harbor seal should at his age. But he is making strides, eating a bit more of his "fish smoothie," which contains electrolytes and a milk matrix and salmon oil mixture. Oswald said the pup will most likely remain at the center under care for two or three months before possibly being returned to the wild.
The seal was found in the waters of the Palo Alto Baylands after a passerby heard the pup's cries and saw the seal bobbing near the concrete wall, its head periodically disappearing under the water.
"We had a concern about the way the baby was struggling. We were worried about him possibly drowning," Animal Services Officer William Warrior said.
Climbing down the flood gate, Warrior and another officer lifted the pup out of the bay water using a net and brought the seal to the Palo Alto office of Peninsula Humane Society's Wildlife Rescue Center. From there, the seal was transported to the Marine Mammal Center for further care.
Harbor seal pups are weaned from their mothers when they're between four and six weeks. The pup probably came from Mowry Slough in Newark, one of the sites nearby where harbor seals gather in groups, he said.
The pup is the first harbor seal from Palo Alto that the center has received since 1991, Oswald said.
Oswald said people can help the center purchase fish for Floodgate Dolly and other patients.
"This spring we're estimating that we'll go through 80,000 pounds of herring, given the 165 patients we're caring for right now and with more on the way," he said. The center is having a marathon "dollar-a-pound" fundraiser. Each dollar will purchase a pound of fish to feed Floodgate Dolly and his pals. More information is posted at www.marinemammalcenter.org.