Joline, Joline, Joline, Joline…

Yes, she is named after Dolly’s Jolene, but you can’t expect non-native English speakers to get the spelling right all the time.

The common wisdom here is that you will fall in love with the first seals you properly look after, and Pyza and Nessy from Quarantine 2 will always be special to me, but the true queen of my heart is Joline.

10/10 could steal your man

Joline is the first grey seal of the season, and arrived a few days before I did with a broken bone in her back flipper. Given her age (about a month) they think she is a pup from the UK, perhaps from the Farnes where I may have met her parents. I met her for the first time on Thursday. Despite her injury she was swimming to catch fish and eating on her own, feisty with the nurse who caught her, and, well, just look at that face.

Yesterday Joline had surgery, which ended up with two bones having to be amputated. This is fine – seals are still perfectly capable with only one back flipper!

After surgery they have to be kept awake for two hours, then woken up once an hour for five hours. I volunteered to do the first stint keeping her up, armed with a walkie talkie, a clipboard and a towel. For the first half hour it was relatively easy as she was fairly alert, but then she started to doze off (and chose to do so facing away from me, so I couldn’t see if she was awake or not).

I tried making noise to keep her up, which worked for a while. When that failed I waved the towel over her face. At first this got a pretty severe, snappy reaction. It lessened and lessened, until she was barely twitching. In a panic I called the vet on the walkie talkie, who came running and scrubbed her side with the cleaning brush until she woke up, understandably grumpy.

Look at that cool camo cast – ignore all the poo

That was the end of my shift, and I think Tanya had a hard hour after me. I fell asleep on the sofa, and the 1am check that I volunteered for ended up being more like a 2am check, but by that time she was alert and responsive, all of the anaesthetic having passed out of her system. Phew.

I’ve been off today but fingers crossed I can see her tomorrow. No one seems to be panicking and she’s eating, so I don’t have to be too stressed.

It’s not often you hope for the love of your life to leave you, but in Joline’s case I’m praying for a speedy recovery so she can get back out where she belongs.

UPDATE: Check out the time-lapse video of her surgery here.

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