BRIGANTINE, NJ — The gray seal pup found underweight and injured on the Belmar beach in February has been sprung from rehabilitation.
After spending nearly two months at the Marine Mammal Stranding Center — where its feeding instincts kicked in, and it gained some 30 pounds — the four-month old seal waddled its way back into the ocean on April 5 along a quiet Jersey Shore beach.
“Now this little lady weighs 60 pounds after being us with for one and a half months. She passed fish eating school very well,” said Michele Pagel, education and volunteer coordinator with the Brigantine-based center, who handled the release.
“It’s always a beautiful day, release day ... to get her back in this condition where she can return to the wild,” she said in a video that can be viewed on the center's Facebook page by clicking here.
The gray seal had some company as it was released on April 5. A harbor seal that also was recovering at the center since February returned to the water. In addition, a healthy gray seal recently removed from a crowded Belmar beach was relocated to this more-subdued location.
The center continues to stress to the public the importance of staying a safe distance away from seals that “haul out on land” — or come onto a beach — at this time of year to get much-needed rest after hunting and swimming long distances. And now that warmer weather is bringing more people to the beach, the seals are at greater risk of being disturbed.
“Seals are federally protected animals, and people (and dogs) should stay at least 150 feet away from a seal on the beach,” she said. “They do have a very sharp teeth and powerful jaws, and will bite a person or dog if they feel threatened.”
Marine Mammal Stranding Center is a nonprofit organization that has responded to more than 5,600 calls for seals, dolphins, whales and sea turtles that have washed ashore along all of New Jersey’s beaches since 1978. For more information, including the latest stranding statistics, current patient updates and how to become a member or donate, visit its website by clicking here.
To report sighting of a seal or other marine animal, call the Marine Mammal Stranding Center’s 24-hour hotline at 609-266-0538.