ELLSWORTH — A seal pup made its way onto the Bayside Road on Friday morning.
“There’s a little brook across the street from where it was,” just past the Spindle Road, said Maine Marine Patrol Spc. Sean Dow, adding that he was told the waters were high after yesterday’s rain. “I’m assuming maybe it found its way up there.”
“He seemed happy,” said Marine Patrol Sgt. Troy Dow (who is no relation to the specialist). “He was responsive when you touched him or moved him.”
Ellsworth Police Officer Andrew Weatherbee “shooed it off the side,” said Spc. Dow.
The officers called Allied Whale at College of the Atlantic, a required part of protocol. Allied Whale is the designated stranding response organization for the area and staff there gave Marine Patrol the OK to move and release this seal.
The pup was a grey seal that had been weaned from its mother. “They wean really quickly because the milk they get from their mother is so nutritious,” said Lindsey Jones, Marine Mammal Stranding Coordinator at Allied Whale.
“This was the first grey seal stranding of the year,” said Jones. Grey seals range throughout the gulf of Maine, said Jones, and are “probably the largest seal species we see,” with adults potentially weighing over 1,000 pounds.
The men put gloves on and picked up the seal, which they said weighed between 20 and 25 pounds and was around 3 feet long, put him in a plastic tote and “sat him in the front seat of the truck,” said Sgt. Dow.
“They don’t have the elbows like a deer,” he said. “Once they’re in there they’re pretty secure.”
“It is strange to pick one up that far from shore,” said Sgt. Dow, although “it’s not as rare as you’d think.”
The men let the seal go at the Trenton boat ramp.
“And he swam away,” said Spc. Dow.
Jones noted that under the Marine Mammal Protection Act it is illegal to get within 150 feet of a seal. Stranded seals should be reported either to Allied Whale (207-266-1326), which deals with strandings from Rockland to the border with Canada, or to Maine Marine Animal Reporting Hotline at 1-800-532-9551.