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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 December 2006, 11:11 GMT
Sanctuary saves rare albino seal
Whitebeam, the albino seal
Whitebeam was found washed up, exhausted, on a beach
A rare albino seal pup is being cared for at a Lincolnshire seal sanctuary after being washed up on a beach.

The seal, named Whitebeam by staff at the Natureland Seal Sanctuary, was found exhausted near Sutton-on-Sea by a member of the public.

Staff at the centre said the seal was suffering from lungworm - which affects the pup's ability to dive underwater to catch fish - and had damaged flippers.

Whitebeam is now on the road to recovery and will be released in 2007.

Duncan Yeadon, from the Natureland Seal Sanctuary in Skegness, said the pup was doing well.

"The thing we're really looking at is the target release weight which is about 30kg, so Whitebeam has a fair way to go.

"But seals can put on about 8kg or 9kg a week once they get going so we're looking to release him in February or March, depending on the weather," he said.

After a shaky first few days, his condition improved and his appetite returned
Duncan Yeadon, seal sanctuary

Whitebeam's main problem was the lungworm, which is a parasite that infests the airways and makes it difficult for the seal to hold its breath long enough to dive to catch fish.

If the seal cannot feed, it will become weaker and weaker until it is washed ashore, exhausted.

Whitebeam was given a worming injection and the wounds on his front and back flippers were cleaned and treated.

Mr Yeadon added: "He was put on a course of antibiotics and after a shaky first few days, his condition improved and his appetite returned."

A spokesperson from the Natureland Seal Sanctuary said albino seals were very rare and the last one treated at the centre was in 1994.

Since the sanctuary opened in 1965, 491 seals have been rescued and rehabilitated.


SEE ALSO
Seal pups released into the wild
17 Jan 06 |  Lincolnshire
Rescued fugitive seal back home
18 May 04 |  Lincolnshire

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