Mystic Aquarium releases Harp Seal back into the wild after quite the journey

Connecticut

CHARLESTOWN, RI (WTNH)– In Charlestown, RI, the rescue team from Mystic Aquarium is releasing a Harp Seal. The Harp Seal being released on this cold and rainy Friday has been on quite a journey. Back in April 2020, he was found stranded in New Jersey.

“This particular animal was malnourished and thin,” said Sarah Callan, Asst. Mgr. of the Animal Rescue Program at Mystic Aquarium.

Rescuers from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in New Jersey moved him to SeaWorld in Orlando for rehab.

That’s where his eye was surgical removed because of a cataract. A condition with which he could not have survived in the wild.

“Everything looked great with the left eye we were able to make sure he was foraging and he did really well at the facility hunting for the foods that we were throwing in and that way he was able to be considered for release,” said Becca Downey who is part of the SeaWorld Rescue Team.     

She traveled with the adult male which was brought to Mystic Aquarium this week to help him get acclimated again to the colder climate and prepared for his release.

“You’ll notice he does have a satellite tag on his head and his hind flipper,” Callan told the group gathered on a Charlestown, RI beach.

The seal seemed to be taking his time after crawling out of the wooden carrier and those gathered let him lay on the beach until he was ready to go into the water. 

They had boards though to make sure he didn’t go back up the beach and also to guide him a little bit along the way.

Eventually he seemed to respond to the call of the ocean and as he entered the water volunteers and rescuers cheered.

“I wonder what he’s going to do once he goes out into the ocean,” said Jack Binger, whose mother works with the aquarium. “If he’s going to find any other seals or just have fun.”

WEB EXTRA: Seal returns to the ocean

The seal is expected to eventually head north to Canada or even as far as Greenland.

“We’re really excited for him and to bring him back home,” said Callan.

His rescuers all there to witness his return to the wild.

“It’s such a reward for all of us,” said Downey.

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