ONSET – National Marine Life Center supporters showed their support for Arctic seals by going a little Arctic themselves Sunday.
About 50 intrepid souls participated in the NMLC’s first Arctic Seal Plunge with a jump into the Bay from snow-ringed Onset Beach.
Over the past several years, NMLC has treated an increasing number of Arctic seals, such as harp and hooded seals, which are normally found further north, it was noted in a press release announcing the event.
The NMLC, located at 120 Main St. in Buzzards Bay, provides care for stranded marine animals, including seals and sea turtles.
The plungers gathered in the Onset Bay Center prior to the event, which was donated for the day by the Buzzards Bay Coalition.
Connie Merigo, NMLC president and executive director, said they were happy with it being a bright sunny day.
“Mentally, it’s important,” she said with a smile. “You think you’re not as cold as you are.”
They were also happy with the turnout for this first-time fundraiser, she said. One supporter raised over $1,000.
“We’re a non-profit. We rely on the generosity and kindness of others for the programs that we run. It was a lot to have someone raise over $1,000. It was very, very cool,” she said, no pun intended.
Some plungers dressed for the event, including NMLC volunteer Christine Piearson, and Wendy Wyman, NMLC animal care and life support systems coordinator. They were bedecked in matching seal outfits that they wore into the water.
Some plungers made it a family affair. NMLC volunteer Meghan Wells was joined by brother Sam, aunt Holly, and her husband, Chris Caulfield, a member of the NMLC Board of Trustees. Meghan’s mom, Susan, said she was on hand strictly for rooting purposes.
Meghan said it was her first plunge. Asked if she was having any pre-plunge jitters, she predicted with a laugh, “It’s going to be cold, really cold. But it will be fun. It’s a good way to raise money for a good cause.”
Her aunt, Holly Wells, came all the way up “from Connecticut to freeze.” She added, “It’s really all Meghan’s fault.” It should be noted that Holly, kidding aside, was one of the top three fundraisers.
Jason Rodman blamed Chris Caulfield for talking him into his participation. The 37-year-old said the last plunge he made was when he and Caulfield and their friends were in college and made New Year’s Eve plunges at a Fairhaven beach for fun.
“But now at 37, it’s not as fun,” he said with a broad smile, quickly adding, “We’re doing it for a good cause. It’s going to be fun.”
Out on the beach, the plungers lined up facing the Bay.
Merigo provided the countdown and the plungers raced into the water.
Then they raced out.
It was over in a freezing flash.
Meghan called for a towel before acknowledging that her predictions had been spot on: The plunge was “cold” but “fun.”
And she was right about another thing.
It was a good way to raise money for a good cause.