2013-02-22 / Community

Seal Story


A young, stranded Harp seal rests on Rockaway Beach after being found by two local fishermen. (Photo by Janie Simmons.) A young, stranded Harp seal rests on Rockaway Beach after being found by two local fishermen. (Photo by Janie Simmons.) Early Monday afternoon, February 18th, two Rockaway fishermen found a young Harp seal stranded on the beach near Beach 69th Street.

They were soon joined by local residents Marlen Waaijer, Janie Simmons and Eric Metcalf, who, noting the animal’s distress, reached out to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.

The Foundation, located in Riverhead, New York, maintains a 24- hour emergency hotline to alert them to stranded marine mammals and turtles.

According to Simmons, “The Riverhead Foundation is an organization that rescues marine mammals and sea turtles from coastal New York beaches. Their staff arrived a few hours later.”

She added, “Hopefully, they can help this Arctic pup.”

Later in the day, the Foundation posted pictures of the seal, now awake and alert, on their Facebook page.


Awake and alert, the Harp seal is being cared for at the Riverhead Foundation on Long Island. Awake and alert, the Harp seal is being cared for at the Riverhead Foundation on Long Island. They reported, “Today biologists admitted a yearling Harp seal from Rockaway Beach in Queens.

“The young male weighed in at 20Kg or 44 pounds. He is being treated for dehydration and is currently resting in one of our sixteen seal rehabilitation tanks.

“We would like to thank the officers from the NYC Parks Department and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (who) assisted in rescuing our newest patient.”

“I just talked to them,” said Simmons, and “they think he is going to be okay.”

She stated the best thing people can do when finding a stranded marine animal is to “keep people and dogs away and call (the Foundation).”

Notes California’s Marine Mammal Center, “Don’t touch and do not pick up, pour water on or feed the animal!

They are wild animals and can bite. They also are easily stressed by humans.

“Seals and sea lions temporarily “haul-out” on land to rest or because they are not well.

To report a sighting of a healthy, sick, alive or dead marine mammal (which includes whales and dolphins) or sea turtle, people may contact the Riverhead Foundation at their 24-Hour Stranding hotline number 631-369-9829.

According to their website, www.riverheadfoundation.org, “The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation operates the New York State Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Program, and is the only authorized organization of its kind in the state of New York.

“Since the program’s inception in 1996, over 4,000 marine mammals and sea turtles have been rescued off the beaches and shores of New York State.”

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