OCEAN CITY — A female harp seal rescued from the beach in Ocean City late last month is on the mend at the National Aquarium’s Animal Care and Rescue Center in Baltimore and is expected to make a full recovery.
The harp seal was rescued late last month and was admitted to the animal care and rescue center on Jan. 29. She was quickly given a complete examination, which revealed she was displaying signs of dehydration and a mild respiratory infection. The seal is currently receiving fluid therapy and antibiotics to treat her ailments.
Every rescue season, the National Aquarium chooses a theme to name the various seals and other marine animals that come through its rehabilitation facilities and for this season, the theme chosen is influential scientists. To that end, the female harp seal rescued in Ocean City has been named Marie Tharp, a famed cartographer and geologist who created the first scientific map of the Atlantic Ocean.
Tharp’s discovery of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a 10,000-mile-long valley in the sea floor, showed the ocean’s floor was spreading and creating new crust. That finding eventually led to the confirmation of a continental drift, or what is now known as plate tectonics.
Marie Tharp isn’t yet eating on her own, so the animal care and welfare staff is working diligently to teach her that skill again. According to aquarium staff, Marie is making improvements daily and is trending in the right direction. She will continue to be closely cared for by the expert team until she is back in prime shape and healthy enough to return to the ocean.
Each winter, migrating seals of various species and sizes pass through the mid-Atlantic region as part of their normal migratory patterns and more than a few haul out on the beaches in and around Ocean City and Assateague.
Many are simply resting or sunning themselves along their journey, while others are ill or injured, as is the case with Marie Tharp. In either case, the seals present an adorable opportunity for residents and visitors to enjoy them from afar, but interaction with humans and even their pets can often have dangerous consequences. To that end, the MCBP and the National Aquarium Marine Rescue Program on an outreach program for responsible seal viewing and sighting reporting.
Anyone who encounters a seal on the beach this winter is urged to call MARP’s direct line at 410-576-3880 so a trained observer can evaluate the condition of the animal to determine if it is just doing its normal activity or if it is in distress. Seal sightings can also be registered on the MCBP website at www.mdcoastalbays.org