Coast Guard assists grey seal pup

NARRAGANSETT, R.I., – The Coast Guard and the Marine Mammal Stranding Center of New Jersey released a female grey seal pup at Salty Brine State Beach here at 6:45 a.m., Thursday.

The animal stranded in New Jersey this spring in the borough of Ship Bottom, on Long Beach Island, N.J. It was rescued and cared for by the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, and treated for a respiratory infection caused by sinus mites. When rescued, the seal weighed 81 pounds. Upon release, it weighed 140 pounds.

The seal was set free in Rhode Island because of this species’ inquisitive nature. The shore of New Jersey is strewn with many fish and lobster traps and grey seals find it difficult to avoid entanglement, said Robert Schoelkopf, the stranding center’s director.

Coast Guardsmen from Station Point Judith, R.I., and stranding center personnel carried the seal in a crate down to the beach and opened the crate door. After initially heading the wrong way up the beach, the seal turned around, went to the water line and swam away.

“Most people who join the Coast Guard do it to save lives,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Chad Curth, of Station Point Judith. “Every now and then we get the chance to help save an animal’s life – and that’s rewarding too.”

Mariners who observe stranded marine animals are encouraged to contact the Coast Guard on VHF-FM radio.

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