Harp Seal makes Springtime Stop

Ashley Stokes | NH Marine Mammal Rescue Coordinator

Yesterday, we responded to reports of a live seal on the beach in front of Seaside Village in North Hampton. We assumed it would be a harbor seal pup, but were surprised to find a male juvenile harp seal! Harp seals are a winter visitor of ours, and should be headed back to the Canadian Provinces now that the weather is beginning to get warmer. He was a little thin and had dry crusty eyes and was eating sand; an indicator of stress. The area he was in is normally frequented by a lot of people and dogs, but thankfully because of the high winds and chilly temps yesterday, it was relatively quiet. But with nicer weather in the forecast today, we made the decision to relocate him to a quieter spot.

He was removed from the beach, had his eyes and mouth rinsed of some sand, and we then tagged his left rear flipper and put a strip of pink grease stick down his back so he is easily recognizable if he shows up somewhere else in the next week or two before it wears off. He was then released in a quieter spot. When we checked early yesterday evening, all we found were some tracks to the water. We are hopeful that he got the rest he needed and is now hopefully swimming north!

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On the right side of this photo you can see the tracks from where he originally hauled out of the water.

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Rescue Assistant Rob moves in to restrain the animal for tagging, kenneling, and relocation.

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A flipper tag was applied to his left hind flipper (left side because he is a male) by Rescue Coordinator Ashley and Rescue Assistant Sarah before he is relocated.

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The seal is then removed from the busy beach spot he chose, and taken to a nearby location that is more remote and much quieter.

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In this photo you can see the flipper tag as well as the stripe of pink grease stick we applied so that he is easily recognizable if he hauls out locally again in the near future. This paint stick will wash off in 1-2 weeks.

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He moved down the beach once released, and then stopped to rest. When we returned early evening to check on him, all that remained were tracks all the way to the waters edge!

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