Seal Release/Patient Update June 15th

diamondback terrapin

Patient Update 6/15/19

Welcome back to the National Marine Life Center’s Patient Update! As some of you may know, our Discovery Center & Gift Shop is now OPEN for the season. Come join us daily from 10 am to 5 pm. Learn about our current patients, the inner workings of our hospital, view a live-streaming camera of our hospital, and ask our summer interns as many questions about our patients and our resident Cape Cod seals as you please!

Read on to hear about the continuing journey of some familiar patients, some new faces, and some exciting information on the release of two of our seals! Continue to follow along with us on social media and our website for updates as we patiently await the start of our harbor seal pup season. If you see a seal pup out on the beach always be sure to stay back 150 ft to ensure their safety!



Kevin when he first arrived at NMLC

Kevin, our Diamondback Terrapin hatchling, was brought to us 9/18 by a Cape resident when he was found far from where he should be (brackish coastal tidal marshes). He was released on 6/13 at Sandy Neck Beach, Barnstable, along with six others during the 7th Annual Diamondback Terrapin Release. This is part of a larger head start program, each with their own designated area.


Have you been wanting to keep up with our harbor seal Jones since his 4/24 release? Below you will find an updated photo of the pings from his satellite tag! Follow us on facebook for occasional updates on his whereabouts.  

Pings from Jones’ satellite tag



Madame Olympe Maxime,  a female grey seal weanling, stranded on 4/23 in Amagansett, NY and was rescued by Riverhead Foundation. She was transported to our care and admitted on 4/25 with a high fever, heavy parasitic load, wounds scattered across the body, and most importantly a severe entanglement wound on the neck due to monofilament (fishing line) and rope.

Madame came in with a few deep wounds on her left front flipper that are believed to be bite wounds from a canine species. She was found to also have an infected nail when it began to bleed profusely shortly after she was admitted. The bleeding was caused by an underlying abscess that was removed and has healed nicely since. Additionally, Madame came to us suffering from severe eye trauma on her right eye, but her largest injury was the strangulation wound around her neck from the fishing line.

Update: Madame’s right eye has ruptured since coming in and is being monitored on a daily basis for any changes. Thankfully, this is not something that will prevent her from thriving in the wild. (Some of you may remember our harbor seal last summer Chicopee, who was successfully released with a ruptured globe!) Madame’s strangulation wound is healing nicely but has left her with a great deal of scar tissue. Despite healing, as time has progressed we have noticed some developing mobility issues with Madame that may or may not be related to her entanglement. She has been floating in her pool frequently and has a hunched back posture. Our Animal Care Staff and Vets are continuing to monitor this closely and it is slowly showing signs of improvement as she continues to heal. Since coming in, Madame Maxime has made great progress, but with the type and severity of her injuries she still has some healing to do.  She is in the large pre-release pool with our grey seal Hagrid and is making progress every day!

Madame Maxime’s strangulation wound


DID YOU KNOW? Monofilaments take upwards of 600 years to decompose and entanglements impact all marine species across the globe including but not limited to: seals and other pinnipeds, whales, sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, and seabirds. This is unfortunately a common problem here on Cape Cod. If you see an entangled marine mammal, call your local stranding hotline.


Fang, a male grey seal weanling, came to us from Seacoast Science Center on 4/26. He was first observed on Salisbury Beach looking very lethargic and thin. He was monitored for two days before being collected in Newburyport, NH and transported to NMLC. Upon admit he was found to have a heavy parasitic load and pneumonia.

Fang before being rescued by SSC

Update: Fang has finished treatment for his parasites and after a very long process of trying to get him interested in fish, we are happy to announce he is finally eating on his own! This week Fang was moved into the pre-release pool with his new roommate, Snitch! His final step is to make it to release weight.

Fang in one of our large pre-release pools


Nymphadora Tonks, a female harp seal weanling, came to us from Marine Mammals of Maine on 5/28. Originally stranding as a pup on 5/22, Tonks was rescued from Jenness Beach in Rye, NH on 5/23 after being observed as underweight, being pushed around by the waves and coughing up water.

Tonks on Jenness Beach before being rescued

Given that the pupping season for this species ends in March, it is unusual to have such a young harp this late in the year. More importantly, harp seals are typically born in the North Atlantic and Arctic regions. It is rather rare for harp seals to give birth here in the Northeast Atlantic region. 

Tonks enjoying her full-time water access

Tonks has just recently made the switch from tube feeding to eating very small fish on her own, and has graduated to overnight water access! Due to being a harp seal, we have to keep her as cool as we possibly can. Because of this, Tonks receives a lot of fun ice blocks and what we call “fishcicles” which are frozen blocks of water with yummy herring inside.  She is making great progress and gaining weight at a steady rate.


DID YOU KNOW? Harp seals pup (give birth) from late February to March on pack ice floating in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. We see them, along with hooded seals (both classified as “ice seals”) on the Cape in the colder winter months.


Hagrid, a male grey seal weanling, was our first grey seal of 2019. He stranded as a pup in Newbury, MA on 2/28 and was brought to us by Seacoast Science Center with some of his white lanugo still present. Hagrid came to us underweight with a severe tail injury (not to be confused with his flippers) that ultimately resulted in an amputation which has healed nicely.

Hagrid when he first came to NMLC as a pup

Update: Hagrid has reached appropriate release weight and is ready to head home! Keep reading for more information.

Hagrid, in one of our large pre-release pools this past week looking nice and big at his release weight!

Hagrid is currently available for a symbolic adoption on our website


Snitch, a male yearling harp seal, stranded and was rescued from Higgins Beach, ME by Marine Mammals of Maine on 5/8. He was found in a very busy area with a lot of people, and although was originally observed looking alert, began to decline very rapidly. Snitch was admitted to NMLC on 5/10 and upon admit was found to have a significant amount of parasites (lungworms) which made it difficult for him to breathe, dehydration, and liver disease. Snitch was excreting blood from a few locations within his first week at NMLC due to the parasites and liver problems, both of which were addressed immediately. Despite these issues, he came to us in robust body condition at 33.8 kg!


Snitch has finished his treatments and is doing fantastic. He has been enjoying his large pre-release pool and is patiently waiting his release with his new poolmate, Fang.

Snitch and Fang


DID YOU KNOW? Harp seals have a common stress response of going catatonic rather than retreating to the water or becoming aggressive/defensive. This applies to situations where they would be approached by a predator, a person, or any other threat. This is why you should always keep your dogs leashed on the beach and maintain a safe distance of 150 ft away from all marine mammals in accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act.



Ladybug, one of our many cold-stunned Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, originally stranded on Campground Beach, Eastham, MA on 11/17 and was brought to us by the New England Aquarium (NEAQ) on 11/23

Ladybug, Kemp's ridley
Ladybug, Kemp’s ridley


Tunbridge, a Kemp’s ridley, was brought to us by NEAQ on 11/23 due to cold stunning and pneumonia. As of this week, Tunbridge is still showing possible evidence of pneumonia which we can see through the use of radiographs (x-rays), but is otherwise in good health.

Tunbridge, Kemp's ridley
Tunbridge, Kemp’s ridley


Scuttle, another Kemp’s ridley, was brought to us by NEAQ on 11/23 due to cold-stunning and a fractured right radius and ulna. Scuttle is swimming well but we are giving the bones more time to heal before release. He is one of only three turtles left and we are aiming for a local summer release, stay tuned!

Scuttle, Kemp's ridley
Scuttle, Kemp’s ridley

All three of our turtles are available for a symbolic adoption on our website


DID YOU KNOW? “Cold stunning” refers to when a sea turtle is exposed to cold water temperatures for a long period of time, thus decreasing their core temperature, heart rate, and circulation, resulting in lethargy, pneumonia, and sometimes necrotic tissue or death.


Release Information:

It’s finally time! Come join us for the release of two of our seals.

Who: Hagrid and Snitch, our grey seal and harp seal patients

Where: Scusset Beach State Reservation

When: Tuesday, June 18th @ 6 pm

The scientific name for grey seal translates to “hook-nosed sea pig” in reference to the long snouts that males have. Hagrid seems to be growing into his well!


*NOTE: 6 pm is when we OPEN the crates to release the animals, please arrive before this time in order to ensure that you are able to see the release in full. The forecast calls for rain, so pack your rain coats!

Snitch hauled out in his pre-release pool. Can you spot Fang?




Interested in joining our team?

Internship Opportunities:

We offer both a Marine Animal Rehabilitation & Education internship and a marketing internship. Applications for our fall semester are due by 7/1/19. Click here for more information.

Volunteer Opportunities:

We offer a wide range of volunteer positions in various departments. This includes but is not limited to: animal care team (18+), junior animal care (14+), administration, and fundraising.

To find out more please click here.


Posted by Kali P.

Kali is a former intern with a Chemistry degree from Salem State University and a background in marine biology.