Seal pup

The ringed seal is believed to be one of the first to be seen in Ireland (Picture: Facebook/Seal Rescue Ireland)

An incredibly rare Arctic ringed seal pup has been rescued from a beach far from home in Ireland.

The adorable but now ‘very weak’ seal was first spotted near Kerry 12 days ago – in what is believed to have been one of the first times the species has ever been seen off Ireland.

Now Cloudberry – named after an arctic flower – has been taken in by a seal welfare group, after popping up again on Sunday in Quilty, County Clare, apparently following a swim of at least 100km.

Seal Rescue Ireland said it did not expect she would have survived storm Brendan, which was battering the West Coast, without intervention, because she was ‘very weak’ after her exertions and not with her mum.

Noting that the youngster may still not make it, the charity explained: ‘We had hoped to rescue her back on January 2 but she was much stronger and very aggressive and disappeared before the rescue could be carried out.

Incredibly rare arctic ringed seal pup saved from Storm Brendan

It is hoped that the pup can pull through after her exertions (Picture: Facebook/Seal Rescue Ireland)

Incredibly rare arctic ringed seal pup saved from Storm Brendan

Cloudberry is being made comfortable and offered fish and fluids, the charity says (Picture: Facebook/Seal Rescue Ireland)

‘In the week and a half since then she has lost condition and strength and has become dehydrated, so her rescue was much easier this time.’

The group continued: ‘She arrived at our centre around 11pm on Sunday and was given fluids and allowed to rest.

‘We have to be exceptionally careful with this little lady, as ringed seals are known to become stressed very easily when handled, and can over heat and suddenly die (known as Capture Myopathy).’

The pup’s exact age is not known, partly because the charity has never come across a ringed seal before.

But – having enlisted the help of the Alaska Sea Life Centre and a seal rehabilitation and research centre near Groningen, in northern Holland – they estimate that she is around four to five weeks old – given that she is 60cm, 9kg and still has her white coat, though she could be anything up to around 10 months.

Incredibly rare arctic ringed seal pup saved from Storm Brendan

She was found as Storm Brendan battered the west coast of Ireland (Picture: Facebook/Seal Rescue Ireland)

Incredibly rare arctic ringed seal pup saved from Storm Brendan

The seal was spotted on January 2 in Kerry, before later being found around 100km away in Quilty (Picture: Facebook/Seal Rescue Ireland)

Today, the pup will undergo a number of tests to determine any medical issues – and if she is older than first thought, she is likely to have a ‘parasite burden’, which can only be treated when she regains some strength.

She was first found by Joe and Sonia Walsh, who took her to Burren Vets, which held her until transport was arranged by a network of volunteers, the centre said.

It added: ‘Our initial exam showed that she has some congestion in one of her lungs, which is hopefully nothing too worrisome, but thankfully she has a very strong heartbeat. For now we will be keeping Cloudberry comfortable, hydrated and offering her fish in the hopes she will quickly begin eating.

‘We are totally fascinated by her and are praying that her condition will begin to improve… but we are also very aware that she is weak and stressed and might not survive the trauma she is going through.’

Ringed Seals, also known as jar seals, are native to the Arctic Ocean and preyed upon by polar bears and killer whales.

The relatively small sub species is also found in the Bering and Okhotsk Seas, near Russia, and occasionally around northern Europe and Japan – but this is believed to be one of the first times they have been seen in Ireland.

Seal Rescue Ireland expect that they could see more in future, however, adding: ‘Whether she was washed here in currents, or born here by a misplaced mother, one thing for sure is she is far away from her normal home range.

‘With melting sea ice and warming ocean temperatures, currents are expected to become altered as earth’s climate continues to change.

‘This will impact on weather patterns as well as marine species that rely on those currents, so unusual visitors to Ireland like Cloudberry will likely not be the last.’

The charity is also asking for donations to help Cloudberry’s care and has already raised more than €1000.

Late last year in Norfolk, another adorable seal pup appeared to wave to a watching photographer while sunbathing on the beach.



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