MMSC staff and volunteers to the rescue as a lost harp seal is trapped in a duck pond
Michele Pagel- Education and Volunteer Coordinator
March 25, 2020- Shrewsbury, New Jersey
How this adult male harp seal ended up in a duck pond is somewhat of a mystery. Did he wander up the freshwater tributary searching for fish, and climb up the steep embankment to rest? Was he swimming in the area during the recent lunar high tide and get swept through a culvert? One thing was clear, as the underweight seal continued to haul out in the woods, there was nothing for him to eat. Instead, he tried soothing his hunger by eating leaves and mud to no avail. Confused and disoriented, and exhausted from struggling in the mud, we knew he was in need of help. Our dedicated volunteers and concerned property owners monitored the seal as a large scale rescue was planned for Monday.
In the pouring rain, Bob Schoelkopf and stranding staff technician Troy Platt went to the site to work with a team of volunteers to get this seal to safety. Troy donned a dry suit and safety harness attached to a lifeline, and entered the pond. He immediately sank in the mud, and was now chest deep in the water. Using our specially designed net, Troy was able to capture the seal and bring the frightened animal to the shoreline. With the help of everyone on land, we were able to pull the writhing 200lb seal up the muddy embankment, and carry him through the reeds and thorns 100 yards to our stranding vehicle.
When we arrived back at the Center, we immediately started the seal on supportive care with fluids and assist feeding fish. He has been placed in our large rehabilitation pool, where he is resting comfortably, swimming well and slowly loosening the caked-on mud off of his body. We want to thank everyone who was involved in assisting with this rescue operation- Volunteers Scott Longfield and Danielle Brown, NJ Fish and Wildlife law enforcement, NOAA law enforcement, and the homeowners who showed us so much support over the past several days.
THANK YOU to our many donors, without your help we wouldn’t be able to be there for seals in need like this lost harp seal. And to our many fans, THANK YOU for your ongoing support, words of encouragement and for sharing our posts to help spread our mission of RESCUE, REHABILITATE and RELEASE. https://www.mmsc.org/ways-to-donate/simple-donation
All photos by Scott Longfield.