Cured baby seal embarks for Boston

January 25, 1992|By Frank D. Roylance

An 8-month-old harbor seal, nursed back to health at the National Aquarium in Baltimore after being stranded last month south of Virginia Beach, has been trucked to the New England Aquarium in Boston.

The feisty young female seal has joined a group of six other harbor seals and two hooded seals stranded on New England beaches and rehabilitated in Boston.

They will all be released by spring.

"We wanted to stick her with that group so she could respond to the stimulus of the wild animals," said David Schofield, director of the Baltimore aquarium's stranding program.

"We also wanted her to get on a good thick blubber layer and get used to being in the cold before she's released with that group," he said.

After her delivery to an outdoor pool in Boston on Tuesday, Mr. Schofield said, the seal continued her hearty eating habits, her aggressive behavior toward people and competitive nature with the other seals.

"She was really hard to keep hold of," he said, "real wild and real nasty."

Those traits are encouraging to the marine mammalogists, of course, because they are just the traits needed for her survival in the wild.

The seal was found Dec. 30 near Virginia Beach, suffering from dehydration and tapeworms.

A second and much sicker young harbor seal was brought to Baltimore early this month after stranding in Ocean City.

Fifteen pounds thinner than the first animal, she died of pneumonia, complicated by parasites and malnutrition.

"We learned there is a critical time [by which] we have to get these stranded animals" if they are to be successfully rehabilitated, Mr. Schofield said.

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