Eye Surgery for Harbor Seals

Written on October 14, 2014 by The New England Aquarium Blog Hospital: Bulger Veterinary Hospital

Reggie the Seal getting eye drops after successful cataract surgery by Dr. Ruth Marrion, PhD, DACVOHarbor seals in aquarium settings often live far beyond their natural life expectancies in the wild, but like aging people, they can suffer from similar chronic medical conditions like cataracts. The vision of Reggae and Chacoda (Chuck), two adult male harbor seals, had deteriorated in recent years as the milky cloudiness in their lenses increased and reduced their fine vision. Both 200 pounders remain very active and know dozens of behaviors, but they had become more dependent on hearing the verbal commands of their marine mammal trainers rather than seeing their hand signals.

Aquarium veterinarians consulted local veterinary ophthalmologist, Dr. Ruth Marrion of Bulger Veterinary Hospital in North Andover, who has been
donating her services since 2007. She was concerned with the potential for further deterioration and the development of other eye diseases. She recommended the cataract surgery and assembled a surgical team. After Aquarium staff set up a temporary operating room in a seal holding area, Dr. Marrion and a surgeon from Florida successfully removed both seals’ cataracts.

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