Harbor seal pup rescued from Islesboro returns to ocean
Islesboro — The premature harbor seal pup rescued from Islesboro in April is back in the wild after spending the past few months in a rehabilitation facility.
Nicknamed “Runt” by staff at the University of New England's Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center, the harbor seal pup weighed in at 13 pounds and was 24 inches long at the time he was brought to the facility.
Runt was discovered April 10 after a call was made to the Islesboro Police Department reporting the premature pup was stranded off of Hermits Point Road. The pup was located by Senior Officer Fred Porter who contacted Allied Whale to retrieve Runt and take him to UNE.
In many instances, if a seal pup was reported as stranded, Allied Whale staff would evaluate the animal before deciding to take it to a rehabilitation center. Rosemary Seton, a research associate and marine mammal stranding coordinator with Allied Whale, previously told The Republican Journal seal pups are often left alone for long periods of time while the mother searches for food. For that reason, Seton said, it is not uncommon for seal pups to be seen alone on a beach.
“Seals need to haul out; they need to get out of the water for long periods of time,” Seton said in April. “To call a seal stranded is a gray area. It’s probably just enjoying a rest.”
She continued, saying she was able to quickly identify the pup as premature because harbor seals typically give birth in May.
Seton had said that during the rehabilitation period, Runt was tube-fed a special formula before moving onto gruel and eventually to eating fish. She estimated the entire rehab process could take as long as six months, but Runt was ready to leave the facility within three months.
One of the challenges with caring for a seal pup is that they must be taught that fish are edible because they do not instinctively know that they can be eaten. Seton said seal pups nurse for one month before they begin eating solid foods.
Runt was released Thursday, Aug. 1, at Curtis Cove at the end of Granite Point Road in Biddeford.
If anyone finds a marine animal on a beach or other area they should maintain as much distance between themselves and the animal. It is also recommended that pets be kept away from the animal because harbor seals can carry diseases that are harmful to your pet.
Messages left with the University of Maine Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center were not returned.
Anyone who sees a seal or other marine mammal that they believe is in trouble should call the Marine Animal Reporting hotline at 800-532-9551.
Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at email@example.com.
Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.
Recent Stories by Ben Holbrook
Dec 13, 2013
Dec 10, 2013
Dec 10, 2013
Dec 09, 2013
Dec 07, 2013