Seal-ing the Deal
National Aquarium Animal Rescue celebrated the release of two fully recovered seal patients in April, just in time to make room for an injured grey seal we've nicknamed Tom Sawyer.
Each rescued seal that spends time recuperating at the Aquarium's Animal Care and Rescue Center after stranding on the mid-Atlantic shore makes its way into the hearts of the staff that care for them, and the two juvenile seals released in April after recovering with us were no exception.
Grey seal pup Eloise, named after the spunky, sassy storybook character who charms the staff at New York's iconic Plaza hotel while keeping them on their toes, was released on April 7 at Assateague State Park. Like her namesake, Eloise was precocious; even though she was tiny and malnourished when she stranded at Cape Henlopen, Delaware, on Valentine's Day and should still have been in the care of her mother, she quickly met and surpassed her rehabilitation milestones, eventually eating up to 10 pounds of herring per day. She returned to the ocean after 42 days in the care of our team.
Eloise had company while she cruised through rehabilitation. A rescued juvenile harp seal nicknamed Stuart Little was her neighbor in the Animal Care and Rescue Center seal pools where he recovered until his release on April 23. Rescued from Ocean City, Maryland, on March 2 with the help of Ocean City Police and Beach Patrol after he was spotted eating sand, Stuart was dehydrated and suffering from several parasitic infections common to seals. Despite his name, as his health improved, Stuart did not stay little; throughout his rehabilitation, Stuart became a voracious eater, gulping down meals and growing to a healthy 70 pounds before his release at Assateague State Park. His instincts remained intact during his time at the ACRC and, as soon as our team opened his transport crate, he was back in the ocean in a flash.
Typically, seal rescue season here in the mid-Atlantic runs from late winter through late April, so, even as Stuart was being cleared for release, our team responded to a call from Delaware on April 19 for a third seal patient, a juvenile grey seal nicknamed Tom Sawyer, rescued in coordination with Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute. While Tom is recovering well from some of his initial issues, including eye lesions and a traumatic injury to his flipper, he continues to battle lung worms as well as tooth and jaw issues that currently prohibit him from eating on his own. In the coming weeks, our Animal Rescue and Animal Health teams will continue to monitor and treat these conditions, providing nutritional and medical support for Tom, while also providing enrichment activities to keep his natural behaviors sharp as he slowly regains his independence. Stay tuned for updates!
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.