OCEAN CITY — A severely injured seal discovered on the beach in north Ocean City last week and eventually rescued by the Marine Animal Rescue Program is on the mend at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.
On March 13, a local resident encountered the injured juvenile grey seal on the beach at 139th Street and stayed with the creature throughout the day and overnight until MARP staffers arrived the next day. The seal was taken to the National Aquarium in Baltimore where it was treated initially for a severely infected wound, which caused it to become emaciated and dehydrated.
The seal’s condition was grave when it arrived at the aquarium last week and it was uncertain if the injured creature would survive. This week, however, the as-yet-unnamed seal is doing much better and is expected to be on the road to a full recovery.
“The seal is stable and is still being treated with antibiotics and given lots of fluids,” said National Aquarium spokesperson Jennifer Bloomer yesterday. “He began eating solid foods this week, which is a really good sign. He’s eating a diet that consists of fish like herring and capelin.”
Once the seal is beyond the danger point, it will be rehabilitated at the aquarium until it is deemed strong enough and healthy enough to be released into the open ocean again.
Last winter, for example, a juvenile male harbor seal later named “Hastings” was recovered on the beach with a serious wound behind its front flipper. Hastings was treated and rehabilitated at the aquarium for about three months before it was released on the beach near the Inlet in Ocean City.
It has become fairly common to see seals on the beach and in the bay in Ocean City in recent years, either healthy or injured or sick. Aquarium staffers urge residents and visitors to keep a safe distance from the creatures and report sick or stranded seals to MARP.
The mammals are semi-aquatic, meaning they spend part of the time in the water and part of the time on land. They will typically spend multiple days swimming on their normal migration routes before hauling out to rest on beaches, rocks or even docks or piers to rest for as long as 24 hours.
Residents and visitors who encounter seals on the beach or on docks and piers are urged to keep a safe distance from the animals, even if they appear healthy and uninjured. National Aquarium staffers recommend keeping a safe distance of at least 100 feet from stranded or resting seals. Aquarium staffers also remind residents and visitors it is against the law to disturb seals as they are federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.