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Harp seal rescued in Hampton to be returned to the sea this weekend

New Hampshire Union Leader

March 15. 2018 8:46PM
A harp seal rescued in Hampton last month will be returned to the sea this weekend. (COURTESY)

HAMPTON — Officials with the Seacoast Science Center in Rye say Mack, a juvenile harp seal rescued last month in Hampton, will be returned to the sea this weekend.

Karen Provazza, a spokesman for Seacoast Science Center, said Mack will be released Sunday, March 18, at 5:15 p.m. in front of the Lady of the Sea New Hampshire Marine Memorial at Hampton Beach State Park, just north of the Seashell Stage at 180 Ocean Blvd.

According to Provazza, when members of the Seacoast Science Center’s Marine Mammal Rescue Team (MMRT) first located Mack on Feb. 14 at Hampton Beach State Park he was quiet but alert, and responsive to noise and movement. He showed discharge from both eyes, and was monitored for 24 hours to determine if intervention was necessary.

The following morning, Mack was still on the beach and appeared more lethargic. He was also seen eating sand, which juvenile harp seals sometimes confuse with snow, and had abnormal stools said Provazza. Science Center staff determined Mack needed rehabilitation, and he was transported to National Marine Life Center (NMLC) in Bourne, Mass., for care.

There, the seal was given the name Merrimack, or “Mack” for short. According to Provazza, his blood work showed critical dehydration, and radiographs showed that he had rocks in his stomach.

Provazza said Mack bounced back quickly, and resumed eating fish after a week.

“He started packing on the pounds and regained strength,” said Provazza. “After only four weeks in rehabilitation, he was ready for release back into the wild, so he can migrate back north to the Canadian Provinces and the arctic.”

According to information provided by Seacoast Science Center staff, harp seals are ice seals and are typically only seen in New Hampshire during the winter. Their distinguishing feature is the dark harp-like shape on the coat of adults.

The Seacoast Science Center was authorized by the National Marine Fisheries Service to rescue marine mammals off New Hampshire’s coast. As of March 15, Seacoast Science Center staff so far this year have responded to 14 marine mammal cases — 12 live and 4 deceased — with 4 seals transported to rehab.

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