One of the things God knows I love most is enjoying His creation, especially animals. I’ve been a huge animal lover ever since childhood and treasure several wild animal encounters He has blessed me with over the years. So yesterday morning, I was given an early Christmas present of yet one more.
Our volunteer workers were cleaning the beach and rang my bell at 6:20 a.m. to say they’d found a seal! He seemed to be sick or injured and they asked what they should do. I had heard of a few other seal rescues on our beach and sent them to a hotel nearby where one occurred last year, to see if the owners knew who to call. I also messaged my friend Sigrid, because her son has lived here several years and he and his wife, along with another couple, plan to open a domestic animal rescue soon. There was no answer at the hotel and our workers went to the police who said they would “try to coordinate something” (fat chance). But finally I heard back from Sigrid, and fortunately she had the name and number (that I could not locate on the internet) of the Machalilla National Park marine animal rescue center.
Both animal and human resources in Ecuador are not anything close to what we have in North America, and people are used to dealing with and accepting the “circle of life” more readily than we Westerners are. But fortunately, living close to a national park, there is a primitive, but passionate effort towards helping rescue sea animals. Reuben answered my 7:30 a.m. call with, “We will come right away!”
At first our young seal pup had all flippers tucked under him and was barely moving. Our volunteers had already been with him for an hour when I finally arrived, and together we stood watch over him to keep dogs and curious humans (including the arriving resident construction crew) from bothering him. But over the next hour and a half (and after a few private moments early on of me praying out loud over him) he showed dramatic improvement! First he began to move around some. Then he brought out his back flippers from underneath and flapped them on the ground. Then his front flippers. Then he rolled over on his back. Over time he began to roll around, reposition himself and enjoy the first rays of the morning sun. He eventually opened the eye that had seemed injured and closed. A few other friends that came down said they had heard that sometimes they are just tired from their migration swim and beach themselves here to take a rest. By the time the rescue people arrived, we were quite hopeful and even anticipating that he might swim away in the soon high tide. But the rescue people wanted to take him just to make sure he hadn’t eaten something like fishing gear or plastic that made him sick. They told us we could phone in a few days to learn the outcome, but assured us they would check him out and release him as quickly as possible.
It was quite something to be so close to this precious animal. He seemed to sense we were there to help and protect him and he wasn’t afraid of us at all. We all fought the urge to want to pet him, but he let me sit right by his head and showed no fear. Occasionally he would open his eyes and look at us and then nod back off for a nap.
Below are a few more photos of our sweet time together, along with the dramatic rescue (he really perked up and got feisty when they came to get him).
Once again I am reminded that the best gifts we can ever receive, will never be bought in a store or wrapped in a package!