MERR rescues harp seal from beach near Indian River Inlet

February 20, 2024

The crews at the Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute continued their busy winter with the rescue of a young harp seal Feb. 16, near Faithful Steward crossing north of the Indian River Inlet bridge.

The young male seal was discovered by a beachgoer who immediately contacted MERR for response. It was estimated to be about 1 year old and appeared to be alert, vocal and in fairly good physical condition. However, harp seals are prone to dehydration, and it is critical to get them into care right away so they can receive life-saving fluids.

“Without veterinary intervention, the seal’s condition will deteriorate rapidly and can even be fatal,” said MERR Executive Director Suzanne Thurman.

After the seal was rescued, further examination revealed some puncture wounds around his flippers. The seal was transported and is currently undergoing rehabilitation at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, where he will receive expert care on his road to recovery.

MERR followers recently selected a naming theme of flowers for the 2024 seals, so staff and volunteers chose the name Poppy. The rescue team said they hope Poppy will recuperate quickly and get back to his ocean home soon.

For more information about MERR and its work, go to MERR reminds everyone that seals can often be found resting on the beach and other areas at this time of year. Beachgoers need to keep a distance of at least 150 feet from the animal, and keep dogs on a leash so the seal can rest undisturbed and unstressed. To report a sighting, call 302-228-5029 immediately so MERR can assess the animal and determine the best course of action for its well-being.

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