Seal rescued from Exeter's Swasey Parkway recovers, returns to ocean: 'She was eager'
EXETER — A young harbor seal, named Sam Eagle, was wounded and infected with disease when rescuers pulled her from the banks of the Squamscott River along Swasey Parkway last November.
At the time, members of the Seacoast Science Center’s Marine Mammal Rescue Team were not sure Sam would make it.
Sam not only made a full recovery, but on Tuesday the seal was released into the ocean at a beach in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Some seals stall and slowly approach the ocean upon being released, according to Ashley Stokes, director of the Seacoast Science Center’s Marine Mammal Rescue Team. Not Sam Eagle, which rushed to the ocean and disappeared quickly.
“She wasted no time once that kennel door was open,” Stokes said. “She was eager and anxious.”
The seal, believed to be born last May or June, was picked up from the river in Exeter Nov. 30 after wandering through the marsh’s winding riverways.
Sam Eagle, named after the blue eagle character on the Muppets, was first spotted in Exeter the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 25. Stokes said the seal likely found her way to Exeter while looking for food in Great Bay.
Previous story:Sam the seal ‘semi-critical’ after being rescued along Swasey Parkway in Exeter
Volunteers began monitoring the seal on the ground at a safe distance while using cameras to get close views of a belly wound they hoped would heal on its own. When they realized the wound was not getting better, the Marine Mammal Rescue Team transported Sam to the National Marine Life Center in Buzzards Bay.
The seal was in “semi-critical care" when it arrived and for the next two months was nursed back to health.
This week, the National Marine Life Center posted images of Sam Eagle healthy in a pool, recovered and eating fish. The seal was released a couple days later.
Stokes said Sam Eagle popped its head above the water a couple times after rushing into the ocean, then was never seen again.
“It was her time to get back out there,” Stokes said. “She was doing really well, so they determined it was time to get her on course to being back out in the wild.”
The seal’s name comes from the National Marine Life Center, which names animals recovered from the wild based on a different theme each year. Sam Eagle was chosen for the seal based on an interaction witnessed by a research volunteer before the seal’s recovery. The seal was spotted fending off a bald eagle attempting to steal its fish on Nov. 26. The seal ducked underwater with its prize to avoid the eagle, which had swooped down attempting to grab it.
The Marine Mammal Rescue Team responds to more than 100 calls to help marine mammals each year, about 95% of them being to seals, according to Stokes. Stokes said the team came across a gray seal this week that came ashore in Salisbury, Massachusetts, most likely born this winter, but she said that seal was able to return to the ocean on its own.
This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Seal rescued from Swasey Parkway in Exeter released in ocean