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© WDC, gray seal

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WDC conducts milestone seal rescue in Marshfield

WDC Seal Rescue April 2023 (1)

For Immediate Release, April 10, 2023


A young grey seal was found resting on Old Rexhame Beach in Marshfield on Monday, April 3rd. 

The seal was reported to Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s Marine Animal Rescue and Response (MARR) hotline by Marshfield’s Animal Control Officer just after 9 AM.

They reported that the young seal was resting on the beach, but it wasn’t very active or aware of its surroundings. WDC’s MARR team quickly deployed to assess the seal’s condition and behavior to decide if the seal needed veterinary intervention. 

Grey seals, like this one, are born in December – February and “wean”, or become independent from their mother, 2-3 weeks after birth. Unlike whales and dolphins, seals spend time in both the water and on land. They go out to sea to find food and come onto the beach to rest so seeing seals on the beach can be a common occurrence.   

The MARR team conducted a visual assessment and determined that this seal was thin, dehydrated, and showed signs of a respiratory infection. WDC consulted with our partners at the National Marine Life Center (NMLC) in Buzzards Bay, the closest rehabilitation facility, to determine a plan of action.  

The animal’s condition worsened throughout the day, so WDC’s team of trained responders captured the juvenile male grey seal and transported him to NMLC for rehabilitation. The seal’s initial exam at NMLC confirmed what WDC suspected: in addition to poor body condition, dehydration, and pneumonia, the animal exhibited a minor injury on its flipper, oral ulcers, and gastrointestinal problems.    

“This was a milestone case for our relatively new Marine Animal Rescue and Response Program,” said Sarah McCormack, WDC Stranding Coordinator. “It was the first seal that our team transferred to rehabilitation – a sure sign that our program is expanding its capacity to help marine mammals along the South Shore.” 

This seal has been named “Great Smoky Mountain” by our partners at NMLC, in alignment with their current naming theme: National Parks. He is in critical condition at this time, but we are cautiously optimistic that he will respond to treatment and make a return to the ocean soon.  

“We are so grateful for our partnerships with both the Marshfield Animal Control for reporting and monitoring this seal until we were able to get on site, and for NMLC for taking great care of him,” McCormack said.

If you see a dolphin, whale, porpoise, or seal in distress from Weymouth through Plymouth, please call WDC’s hotline at (617) 688-6872.

High resolution images available HEREWhale and Dolphin Conservation 

Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC),  is the leading international charity dedicated solely to the worldwide conservation and welfare of all whales, dolphins, and porpoises. WDC is authorized by NOAA to respond to stranded marine mammals through an agreement as part of the Greater Atlantic Regional Marine Mammal Stranding Network. 

Press contact: Sarah McCormack, Stranding Coordinator, [email protected]

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