while the above three pictures look like it might be the start of a beautiful Mother/baby moments, they are not. When I came to Hopkins Rookery this morning at about 0730, i saw M&M out in the water and noticed something white beside her. I quickly realized that she had had her pup but it was dead. There was no blood on the beach, so i can not be sure how long ago the birth was. Not seeing blood on the beach could mean that it was before the tide was high and washed it away. Or it could have been born in the water. But if you look at the second picture, you can see that the pup seems to be in rigor, meaning it could be between 2 and 6 hours since the birth. But you can also see how long and how much hair the pup has. This is an indicator of premature birth. Much like a baby, the seal will lose all the extra hair before a normal term pregnancy. Many times, i can see the wads of fur when the amniotic sac burst. However, there are premature births that do result in pups that live. So we do not know why this pup died.
The tough thing about this death is that it is the 13th of the season that we have been able to verify and have yet to have a live birth. Plus this Mom is one of the veteran moms with five documented live births before she has lot a pup last year and now this year. We are pretty sure she is at least 12 years old. Since Kim has watched her for seven years pupping and we know they are usually around five years old before they start pupping. So we do not know how old for sure she is and if some of this might be age related. You can see her hips a little in this bottom picture but overall, she still looks fairly healthy.
We believe there are still two weeks before pups might be born that are in the regular time frame of when we would expect full term pups. Again, as i often say....STAY TUNED.