A very young Grey Seal pup was stranded for several days at Eastern Point Lighthouse. During his time at the beach, the weanling was closely monitored by Cape Ann resident Alexa Mulroy, who is a volunteer for the Seacoast Science Center, along with Gloucester’s ACOfficers Teagan Dolan and Jamie Eastman.
The little guy was only about 24 inches long and was quickly losing his stored baby fat (because he was not eating while stranded on the beach). For the most part, he remained quiet, although he was feisty enough– growling, barring his teeth, stretching, itching and occasionally moving his flippers. He had a number of small cuts on his flippers and his mouth was bleeding. We nicknamed him EP and everyone hoped he would swim off with the next high tide.
The protocol for seal strandings, if they are not obviously sick or seriously injured, is to wait a day or two before locating a place for them to recover. December through February is Grey Seal pupping season and it’s not uncommon to see these very young seal babies on the beach. SSC volunteer Alexa Mulroy placed symbolic roping and several signs around the seal to let people know of his presence. For the most part, people were respectful, and allowed EP to rest peacefully.
Seacoast Science Center, based out of Rye New Hampshire, is the region’s go-to organization for marine mammal rescue. Although they are not permitted to rescue animals on Cape Ann they can, with special permission from NOAA. EP’s rescue was coordinated by Ashley Stokes, SSC Director of Marine Mammal Rescue and assisted by Brian Yurasits, SSC Marine Mammal Rescue Community Outreach Manager and Rebecca Visnick, Gloucester’s Deputy Shellfish Constable.
With each high tide, EP moved away from the water, not towards, and it became clear that he was not yet ready to return to the sea. Constable Rebecca thought EP was a little over a month old and only recently weaned from his mom.
The challenge became to find a place to take EP. The New England Aquarium, National Marine Life Center (NLMC), or Marine Mammals of Maine (MMoME) had any openings. Ashley was persistent and fortunately for EP, there was “room at the inn” at Connecticut’s Mystic Aquarium.
Mid-morning on Friday, Ashley, Rebecca, and Brian arrived at the EPLighthouse beach with truck, a dog crate, and equipment needed to give EP a health assessment before transport. Ashley and Rebecca sort of “swaddled” him prior to administering much needed fluids, he was then placed into the carrier and loaded onto the truck. Brian was in charge of transporting EP to Mystic. We hope we’ll have a positive update in the near future!
Ashley, Rebecca, and Brian
Once again I am struck by how we are all connected by these beautiful wild creatures that travel our shores. Just as was Peregrine Falcon 07/CB that hatched in Newburyport, who was treated for injury at Wild Care in Eastham and at Tufts in Medford, and is now hunting along the shores of Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, Grey Seal pup EP was stranded in Massachusetts, rescued by New Hampshire’s Seacoast Science Center, and will undergo rehab at Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut.
Donations to Seacoast Science Center are very much appreciated. We residents of Cape Ann are so grateful and appreciate so much their kind assistance. If not for the SSC Marine Mammal Rescue program, Cape Ann would be largely without a resource for organized marine mammal rescues.
If you would like to donate to this very worthwhile science center and marine mammal rescue organization, please go here: DONATE
MARINE MAMMAL RESCUE HOTLINE: 603-997-9488
Not every seal you see on the beach is in need of rescue, in fact, most are not. Seals are semi-aquatic and most haul out to sleep, nurse, soak up the sun, or escape predators (sharks!).
Guidelines provided by SSC on what you should do if you spot a live or dead seal or other marine mammal on a beach.
- Watch quietly from at least 150 feet away
- Keep dogs away from the animal
- Do not pour water on the animal
- Do not offer the animal food or water
- Do not cover the animal with a towel or blanket
- Do not try to move the animal
- Call 603-997-9448 and report the animal’s location, size, coloring, and behavior.
Great work & great reporting
This is a great story and held my interest all the way to the hashtags. Visualization from the photographs really enhanced my attention and interest. Thank you for this informative story. I’m going to print it out and give a copy to my 13 year old so she can have a quick education whereas she lives in Gloucester.
I live near the coastal waters and encountered a baby seal resting on the shore of Goose Cove waters. It had several wounds and was weak. It was a weekend and no one was available at the N.E. Aquarium to get the pup. Someone came within the week, but it was too late. They’re such beautiful creatures.
Thank you for this informative story.