Seal of Approval – NMLC Receives Approval to Rehabilitate Seals

marine animal hospital

YIPPEE, YAHOO, HOORAY! The National Marine Life Center’s new marine animal hospital is officially open to seal patients!  On Friday the National Marine Life Center became a designee under the University of New England Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center’s (UNE) stranding agreement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA regulates all marine animal stranding operations in the United States for Seals, Sea Lions, Dolphins, Porpoises, and Whales, and has to inspect and approve all marine mammal rehabilitation facilities. After official inspection and a lengthy permitting process, NMLC is now online and accepting seal patients.

Photo by Michael Neelon.

NMLC’s marine animal hospital currently has two 12 ft diameter, 3,400 gallon rehabilitation pools with life support systems in operation. Each pool can hold up to two juvenile seals or up to ten Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles, but never both types of animals at the same time in the same tank! With the ability to rehabilitate seals, NMLC can now help meet a critical regional need for seal rehabilitation space. Prior to NMLC opening to seal patients,  any seal that stranded in Massachusetts and in need of care had to be transported to UNE in Biddeford, Maine or the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut for rehabilitation. In many cases, this is a 3 to 4 hour drive which can be very stressful on an animal. The bigger problem, however, was the fact that many times these facilities would fill up with animals from their own local response areas and not have room for Massachusetts animals. In these cases animals would either have to be left on the beach, relocated to a safer location, and/or humanely euthanized.

Our First Seal Patient “Shitake” being released in 2007. Shitake was the one and only seal NMLC rehabilitated before the roof collapse on the old rehabilitation facility

The National Marine Life Center is happy to be open to seals and to begin accepting these patients who would otherwise have no where to go. We can currently accept up to four seals at a time, and hope to continue expanding our hospital’s capacity so we can accommodate more patients of more species in the future. Please watch our website for updates as we begin to admit seal patients. Help us celebrate this big step towards a future of rehabilitating animals, expanding science and conservation education.

If you would like to contribute to the care of the first seal patients in our new hospital please click here to make a donation. We can also use the following items if you would prefer to contribute in that fashion: Simple green cleaner, waterproof bib overalls, rubber boots, buckets, laundry detergent, hand sanitizer,  nitrile exam gloves, lysol wipes, Dawn liquid dish soap, and Virkon disinfectant. Check our wish list for a more extensive listing of items needed by NMLC. Contact Animal Care Coordinator Kate Shaffer at or 508-743-9888 x307 for information on items needed specifically for seal rehabilitation. Help us to return more healthy animals back to their natural environment!