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Gray seal pup rescued at South Bethany

An injured gray seal pup was found at York Beach Crossing in South Bethany Beach over the weekend.

The Marine Education Research and Rehabilitation Institute rescued the feisty female pup and brought her to treatment at a nearby animal hospital. The pup has since been transferred to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, New Jersey for additional treatment.

MERR Institute executive director Suzanne Thurman says the seal pup had an injury around her mouth and she was likely two months old.

After seal pups get fattened up from their mother's milk, they’re pushed out of their colony and head south to learn to survive, she said.

“The mothers disassociate from the pups, they have to make it on their own from there,” Thurman said. “It is believed it’s to get them away from the large aggressive males who will do harm to the pups.”

Thurman says pups make up the majority of sightings from March through April, but the MERR Institute also sees adults and sub-adults as well.

The Marine Education Research and Rehabilitation Institute has responded to 25 seal sightings so far this year.

“They’re trying to find areas where they can feed. They probably start following some food if they’re not finding it, they just keep looking.” Thurman said. “They’re just really exploring and traveling…”

The MERR Institute was also alerted of a harbor seal last week at Slaughter Beach. The seal was stuck in mud, but unharmed, Thurman said.

If you see a seal, call the MERR Institute’s stranding hotline: 302-228-5029.

Federal law requires people to keep a minimum distance of 150 feet away from a seal.

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