Any lost puppy creates concern among bystanders, but this particular Sunday morning the little grey mound with the big, round eyes was a harbor seal pup.
We were about to cross the sandbar between Bar Harbor and Bar Island in Acadia National Park when we noticed a small crowd gathered at a respectful distance around the baby seal. “Watchers” from Allied Whale of College of the Atlantic were taking turns keeping an eye on the little fellow and ensuring onlookers didn’t get too close, which would only add to his stress.
He didn’t seem upset at all, though. Like most babies – and this one was only two or three weeks old – he seemed most interested in napping.
However, he couldn’t do the other thing most babies like to do – nurse – and so, as Tom Fernald, a research associate at College of the Atlantic, observed, he had already lost about a third of his body fat. “He’s skin and bones. He should look like a little stuffed sausage.”
The good news is that he will – in about a week. Thanks to the College of the Atlantic’s program dedicated to marine animal preservation – and an active network of volunteers — this pup was about to be rescued and brought down to the only rehabilitation facility in Maine, the Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center (MARC) at the University of New England in Biddeford. According to Tom, the baby seal should be ready to be released back to nature in about six weeks.
This is the pupping season for seals along the Maine coast. If you see an abandoned baby seal, do not approach it. And be sure to keep your own dog away, since seals may not be safe for your animals. Contact people who can help at 207-266-1326. They’ll know what to do.
In fact, teams from Allied Whale had been observing this baby seal for four days based on a call they got. The plan was to leave him on his own to see if his mother would return to retrieve him. This fellow, it turns out, is an orphan – but a lucky one.