ASSATEAGUE — An injured grey seal rescued from the Delaware coast on Easter has completed its rehabilitation at the National Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program and will return to the wild next week as the program’s 150th successful release.
Lilly, a juvenile grey seal, was rescued on the Delaware coast on Easter in early April after suffering a broken jaw. The young seal was transported to the Animal Rescue Program at the National Aquarium in Baltimore where it began an extensive rehab program under the watchful of aquarium staffers.
After two months of rehabilitation, Lilly is now fully recovered and has been medically cleared for re-release. If all goes according to plan, Lilly will be re-released into the wild from the beach at Assateague State Park at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning. Like so many before her, Lilly will likely reluctantly head toward the ocean upon her release on Tuesday and swim away much to the delight of curiosity seekers and onlookers.
When Lilly arrived at the National Aquarium on April 5 after being rescued from the Delaware coastline, it was touch and go for a while as the young seal was suffering from a broken jaw caused by an unknown source. The Animal Health Team closely monitored her progress and it appeared to be a near certainty the seal would require surgery to repair the broken jaw.
However, Lilly responded well to treatment and it soon became apparent the wounded jaw would repair itself without the need for surgery. With a daily diet of herring and capelin, Lilly has gained around 12 pounds since being admitted in April.
Animal Health Team staffers have been working hard on providing Lilly with an assortment of foraging activities to hone her natural hunting skills and ensure she will be able to hunt and eat on her own. With the green light from Animal Health Team, National Aquarium crews will transport Lilly to the Assateague State Park on Tuesday afternoon where she will be re-released.
Lilly’s successful rehabilitation and return to the wild next week will mark the National Aquarium’s Animal Rehabilitation Program’s 150th release. The Marine Animal Rescue Program works year-round to rescue injured or ill seals, sea turtles and other marine mammals and nurture them back to health before re-releasing them.
Last fall and early winter, the program was inundated with sea turtles rescued from a phenomenon known as cold-stunning and many of those have been rehabilitated and re-released. In addition, the program also rescues and rehabs stranded seals from all over the mid-Atlantic region suffering from either illness or injury. Because of the proximity of the National Aquarium to Maryland’s Atlantic coast, many of the rehabbed marine mammals are released from Ocean City and Assateague.