Grey Seal Pup, Eloise, Arrives at the National Aquarium

The National Aquarium is currently caring for a grey seal pup, estimated to be less than one month old and rescued from Cape Henlopen, Delaware, at its Animal Care and Rescue Center.

The National Aquarium is currently caring for a grey seal pup, estimated to be less than one month old and rescued from Cape Henlopen, Delaware, at its Animal Care and Rescue Center. The new rescue patient has been nicknamed Eloise, in keeping with the naming theme of famous storybook characters.

Eloise the seal was rescued on February 12, in coordination with the Marine Education Research and Rehabilitation Institute (MERR). After being triaged at the MERR facility in Lewes, Delaware, Eloise was transported to the National Aquarium’s Animal Care and Rescue Center on February 14. Upon arrival for rehabilitation, the Aquarium's Animal Health and Rescue teams determined Eloise was malnourished with a few lacerations on her neck. Eloise was initially hydrated and nourished through an oral feeding tube, but as the team continued to work with her, Eloise quickly progressed to the next stage in her rehabilitation.

Due to Eloise's young age, she is still considered maternally-dependent pup, meaning that if she were in her natural habitat, she would be relying on her mother for milk. Therefore, her rehabilitation is focused on teaching her how to eat fish—a skill that she normally would learn from her mother. Currently, Eloise has been far exceeding expectations by eating fish on her own. In addition, Eloise also has full-time pool access for swimming and other enrichment activities.

"Pippi and Eloise are unique cases for the Mid-Atlantic because they have stranded when they are still young enough to be maternally-dependent," said Jennifer Dittmar, director of animal rescue at the National Aquarium. "There could be many reasons for this to be happening including storms, a human interaction that scared off the mom, maternal instincts that haven't kicked in or birthing complications."

In 2020, the Animal Health and Rescue teams cared for their first-ever maternally-dependent seal, Pippi Longstocking, who was successfully rehabilitated and released after nine months. Eloise is weighing in at just 28 pounds and she will need to double her weight before she will be eligible for release. To keep up with Eloise's journey, follow the National Aquarium social channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tik Tok.

The National Aquarium's Animal Rescue program is responsible for responding to stranded marine mammals and sea turtles along the nearly 3,190 miles of Maryland coast and works with stranding partners through the Greater Atlantic Region Stranding Network to help respond, rescue and release animals year-round.

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