BETHANY BEACH — A rescued young gray seal pup in Bethany Beach is currently residing in New Jersey to receive additional assistance to return to the ocean thanks to responders from the Marine Education Research and Rehabilitation (MERR) Institute.
MERR was contacted by a resident on Feb. 8 who noticed the tiny seal on the shoreline in front of Sea Colony in Bethany Beach. A team was dispatched to for initial observations and determined that the female seal was alert and active but was underweight and in need of nourishment.
Early in the morning of Feb. 9, a rescue team from MERR was able to secure the seal for transport to Brigantine, New Jersey, where colleagues at the Marine Mammal Stranding Center plan to administer nutritional support and fluids.
The little female gray was rather exhausted from her big outing and slept for the better part of her transport.
The rescue team opted to name her “Juliette,” in reference to the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday. The team from New Jersey’s Stranding Center will further diagnose the seal to determine any presence or absence of any underlying conditions that may have contributed to her coastal visit.
“We hope that little Juliette will be fat and feisty soon and soon return to her home in the ocean,” said MERR executive director Suzanne Thurman.
It’s not uncommon for seals to “haul out” on the coastline at this time of year for a variety of reasons:
If one comes across a seal along the Delaware coastline, keep a safe distance of at least 150 feet and call the response line at 302-228-5029.
Seals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, a federal law that protects marine mammals from harassment and even more extreme effects of human behavior. Violators of this law are subject to fines and imprisonment.