A seal pup was found stranded on the beach at the Delaware Seashore State Park on the Indian River Inlet last week.
In this week's, Enlighten Me, Delaware Public Media’s Nick Ciolino speaks with Executive Director at the Marine Education, Research & Rehabilitation Institute Suzanne Thurman about the seal and how to ensure these protected ocean mammals are safe when they visit Delaware during the winter months.
A baby seal was found stranded along the Indian River Inlet last weekend.
Beachgoers at the Delaware Seashore State Park informed DNREC of the seal Saturday.
Suzanne Thurman is Executive Director at the Marine Education, Research & Rehabilitation (MERR) Institute. She says the animal still had some of its baby fur known as Lanugo indicating it had not yet been weaned from its mother.
“This little female that we rescued had lost most of her Lanugo coat, but she still had it on her flippers,” said Thurman. “So all of her flippers were showing that. So we were using those indicators to tell us she was probably three to four weeks of age.”
Thurman says the seal had some wounds around her neck and body that could have been from a bite.
After the MERR institute performed its initial care and assessment, the animal was transported to the marine animal rescue program at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. There it will stay until it is fully recovered and released back into the ocean.
Staff at the aquarium named tthe seal Pippi Longstocking as part of a theme at the aquarium this rescue season to name all rescued seals and turtles after storybook characters.
The Aquarium’s Animal Health and Rescue teams determined Pippi was dehydrated, malnourished and had an infected front flipper.
The animal is now receiving fluids, anti-inflammatory medication and antibiotics.
The Aquarium agrees with Delaware’s MERR Institute about the Pippi’s age of about three to four weeks.
Thurman says stranded seals in Delaware are common this time of year.
“We will expect to rescue several seals during the time of year when they are most likely to be here, which is typically between November through the end of April,” she said. “They start showing up at the end of November and start heading North towards the end of April.”
Thurman reminds beachgoers to remain 150 feet from seals and to call the MERR institute if one is injured or stranded on the beach.