Posts Tagged 'gray seals'

Healthy animals make their way home

It’s been an exciting week for the Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program, as they have traveled across Maryland to release six rehabilitated animals back to their ocean habitat!

Last Friday, the team traveled to Ocean City, Maryland, to release Guinness, the juvenile gray seal that originally stranded in Kittyhawk, North Carolina, on March 17, and days later came to the National Aquarium for rehabilitation.

Watch a video of Guinness’ release:

Just two days later, the team traveled to Point Lookout State Park in Scotland, Maryland, to release five rehabilitated Kemp’s ridley sea turtles into the Bay. The five turtles, nicknamed Donner, Blitzen, Rudolph, Frosty, and Buddy after winter characters, were part of a larger group of cold-stunned turtles that came to the Aquarium from New England in December. As we’ve shared over the past six months, it has been a long journey for these endangered turtles. The release was certainly a celebration for our MARP team, and the hundreds of people who gathered on the beach to help send the turtles back to sea!

Watch a video of the releases:

Our friends at Oceana joined us for the turtle releases to help educate people about their save the sea turtles campaign, which is dedicated to the protection and restoration of sea turtle populations in the world’s oceans. The campaign works to reduce sea turtle bycatch in fisheries, protect sea turtle habitat and develop legislation to protect sea turtles.

Whenever financially and ethically possible, MARP fits released animals with satellite tags. The tags allow the team to temporarily monitor the migration of reintroduced animals. Whenever the animal surfaces, the tag sends a signal to a satellite, indicating its location.

Thanks to a recent grant, Guinness, Rudolph and Buddy were all affixed with satellite tracking tags. Guinness has already traveled more than 200 miles north, while the turtles seem to be hanging within a 50-mile radius of their release location. You can track their travels on our animal tracking page.

MARP depends on the generosity of volunteers to operate, but medical equipment, medications, and food for caring for these animals is expensive. If you’d like to help support MARP, you can make a donation online, or donate $5 right from your mobile phone by texting ACT to 20222.

A one-time donation of $5 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. All donations must be authorized by the account holder. All charges are billed by and payable to your mobile service provider. Service is available on most carriers. Donations are collected for the benefit of the National Aquarium by the Mobile Giving Foundation and subject to the terms found at www.hmgf.org/t. Messaging & data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe at any time by texting STOP to 20222; text HELP to 20222 for help.

Update from the seal room: Countdown to release!

With the arrival of June and warmer weather, Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) staff and volunteers are preparing to release our rehab patients back to their natural environment. You may remember that eight weeks ago, Guinness the gray seal had a wire placed around his lower jaw to increase stabilization in order to facilitate healthy healing. Well, on June 7, our staff and veterinarians worked together to safely remove the wire to prepare him for his next big step…moving out, back into the wild!

Watch a video about Guinness’s jaw surgery:

Over these last few months, Guinness has made great progress in his healing and overall health. When he came to us in March, he was in great need of some hearty fish and some rest to heal his wounds that he acquired along his travels. Our Marine Animal Rescue Program staff and volunteers have worked nonstop to make sure that he is healthy and ready for release at the end of this month.

Guinness the Gray Seal

You may notice that Guinness no longer has that nice brown/tan coat that he came to us with, but now shows his true gray seal colors in black and gray.  Recently, he went through a molt where he lost all that brown fur to reveal his new black coat! The only evidence of his previous coloration lies around his rear flippers. You may also notice a yellow tag on his flipper. This tag will help us to identify him if he happens to venture into our local waters in the future. Tagging these rehabilitated animals is just one more step that our staff must take to prepare them for their big trip back to the ocean!

While Guinness is still with us for the next couple of weeks, we still need to keep his mind stimulated and his natural behaviors encouraged, which we do with daily environmental enrichment. In this picture you can see a pile of ice cubes with some capelin mixed in. This enrichment is not only a different way for Guinness to get some of his food, but it also helps to cool him down with the outside temperatures rising.

Guinness’s health and weight are much improved, and we at MARP hope to wish him safe travels later this month, pending his exit exam. Vets will check his blood diagnostics one final time, make sure his tag is healing appropriately, and also that the small incision under his jaw where the wire was removed is healed completely. After that, we will transport him to a quiet beach, where he can venture back into his natural environment.

We are also preparing to release the sea turtles that have been in rehabilitation since December. Rescuing and caring for these animals is very costly, and it would not be possible without the support of our volunteers and donations from friends like you. If you’d like to help support MARP, you can make a donation online, or donate $5 right from your mobile phone by texting ACT to 20222.

A one-time donation of $5 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. All donations must be authorized by the account holder. All charges are billed by and payable to your mobile service provider. Service is available on most carriers. Donations are collected for the benefit of the National Aquarium by the Mobile Giving Foundation and subject to the terms found at www.hmgf.org/t. Messaging & data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe at any time by texting STOP to 20222; text HELP to 20222 for help.


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