(May 31, 2019) For the first time in the National Aquarium’s animal release history, the Baltimore aquarium’s rehabilitation program released two seals at the same time at 40th Street beach last Thursday.
Two juvenile male gray seals were released into the wild simultaneously in Ocean City. Following the aquarium’s 2018-2019 naming theme for rescued seals, the two seals were named after scientists Edwin Hubble and George Washington Carver.
Edwin Hubble was discovered out of habitat, having traveled all the way down to St. Augustine, Florida, where he was discovered at the end of March. The young seal had no significant injuries, though he was charted as underweight and slightly dehydrated.
“Edwin was transported up here to be reconditioned and get out into the wild in a more natural place where we would find this species,” National Aquarium Rehabilitation Manager Katie Shaffer said.
The second seal, George Washington Carver, was discovered on 22nd Street in Ocean City at the beginning of April in much worse shape. The young mammal was suffering from respiratory illness, parasites, dehydration and was underweight with superficial wounds.
Both were treated for dehydration through fluid therapy, and Carver received antiparasitic medication and antibiotics for his respiratory illness.
After a few weeks of rehabilitation, the two seals shared a temporary room at the aquarium to make room for another male gray seal named Albert Einstein, who is expected to be released in a few weeks, according to the aquarium. Meanwhile, the two seals were interacting, which was beneficial for Hubble, at least.
“It was really good for Edwin, because he was an animal that had traveled out of habitat and was spending a lot of time on the beach near humans and people, so he had a particular interest in watching people,” Shaffer said. “We took some precautious in the rehab area so that he was not able to view people all the time. Putting him with another animal was really a key part of his rehab so he could be with another seal, watch another seal and, hopefully, start to behave a little bit more like a wild gray seal.”
Just to be safe, however, Hubble received a satellite tag in case he diverts away from his natural habitat again.
“We are monitoring his travels now that he’s been released back into the wild,” Shaffer said.
Approaching wild seals on the beach is illegal as defined by the Marine Mammals Protection Act of 1972, which means it is not legal to approach, touch, harass or feed wild seals. Seals carry infectious diseases that can be passed onto people, and vice versa.
If a seal or other marine animals are located on the beach, beachgoers are advised to not to approach the animal and to advise the beach patrol.