Rescued Seal Set Free On Assateague

Rescued Seal Set Free On Assateague
The juvenile female harp seal, recovered last month in Ocean City, is pictured on the beach in Assateague Tuesday. Submitted Photo

ASSATEAGUE — A tiny harp seal rescued from the beach in Ocean City late last month was quietly released from Assateague this week, while two other seals rescued recently from area beaches remain on the mend.

On Sunday, Feb. 23, a juvenile female harp seal hauled out on the beach at 67th Street and appeared to be in need of attention. 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.

In the case of the juvenile female harp seal that hauled out on the beach at 67th Street, Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP) seal stewards responded and stayed with the juvenile harp seal until National Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) staffers could evaluate the seal’s condition and form a plan of action for her rehabilitation.

National Aquarium MARP officials determined the seal was underweight and dehydrated. The decision was then made to transport the seal to the Animal Care and Rescue Center for rehabilitation. The juvenile female harp seal was named Amelia Bedelia. Each rescue season, the National Aquarium chooses a theme to name the various seals and other marine animals that come through its rehabilitation facilities. This year’s theme is beloved children’s book characters thus the juvenile harp seal is now known as Amelia Bedelia.

Amelia Bedelia spent just over three weeks at the aquarium’s Animal Care and Rescue Center recovering from severe dehydration. Early Tuesday morning, a small team from the aquarium traveled to Assateague State Park to successfully release Amelia Bedelia back into the ocean. Two other seals rescued from area beaches over the last few weeks are still recovering at the Animal Care and Rescue Center.

On Feb. 27, the aquarium’s animal rescue team transported a stranded juvenile grey seal from Assateague State Park to the animal care and rescue center. That seal, later named Huckleberry Finn in keeping with this year’s theme, is being treated for dehydration and external wounds. Huckleberry Finn is receiving a daily regimen of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications.

After spending a few days recovering in a dry triage space, Huckleberry Finn has since been rooming with grey seal pup Pippi Longstocking, who has been in the care of the aquarium since early February. She is estimated at only about eight weeks old, but she recently began eating on her own, which is a sign her rehabilitation is going well.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.