A young harbor seal rescued at South Mission Beach underwent cataract surgery this week, a procedure that might allow her to be returned to the ocean, SeaWorld San Diego announced Friday.
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After her rescue on June 13, SeaWorld veterinarians determined the marine mammal had cataracts in both eyes, leaving her functionally blind and unable to catch fish. The result was that the seal, estimated to be around 4 months old, was dehydrated and about 30 pounds underweight.
Surgery was performed Wednesday at Eye Care for Animals in Tustin by Dr. Doug Esson, a veterinary ophthalmologist. Cataract surgery is rare for seals, according to SeaWorld.
The unnamed seal is now recovering in the park's animal care center, being hand-fed and kept out of the water until her incisions heal. Park officials said if she adds enough weight and displays an ability to hunt for fish, she could be returned to the ocean.
SeaWorld has rescued 102 marine mammals this year.
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