FIRST EVER ADULT GRAY SEAL RELEASE A SUCCESS FOR MYSTIC AQUARIUM’S ANIMAL RESCUE PROGRAM
Seal gains over 100 pounds as a result of world-class care and rehab efforts
Mystic, Conn. (May 30, 2019) – An international and collaborative seal rescue effort came to a successful culmination earlier this morning when Bermuda’s favorite gray seal returned to the cold waters of the northern Atlantic Ocean. After just six weeks in the care of Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program, a fully-recovered Lou-Seal was released at Blue Shutters Beach in Charlestown, RI in front of a large crowd.
Thousands of miles from her native habitat, Lou-Seal was rescued on March 19 by Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo (BAMZ) off a rocky island shoreline. She was the first known case of a stranded adult gray seal in Bermuda.
After weeks of care by BAMZ for malnutrition and dehydration as well as small wounds and nasal discharge, Lou-Seal was stable enough to be flown on a chartered Cargo Jet aircraft from Bermuda to Mystic Aquarium on April 10 to continue her rehabilitation in the Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Clinic.
Through dedicated care from the staff, interns and volunteers of the Animal Rescue Team, Lou-Seal’s wounds had healed and her infection cleared. She gained a much-needed 151 pounds while in Mystic Aquarium’s care, weighing in at 362 pounds on release day, with good body condition.
Prior to release, Lou-Seal was also fitted with a satellite tag that will allow for the tracking of not only her travels but also dive depths with the goal of collecting vital data on the migration patterns of adult gray seals.
“Success stories like these do not happen without the invaluable support and care of many different organizations in multiple countries, all working together,” said Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program Manager, Janelle Schuh. “On behalf of both Mystic and Bermuda Aquariums we would like to express our thanks to NOAA Fisheries, US Fish and Wildlife, Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, Bermuda’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources, The US Consulate and Customs and Border Protection in Bermuda, and Cargojet.”
While only a relatively short period of time, the resources required for the rehabilitation of a large, adult animal add up quickly. Fittingly, Lou-Seal’s rehabilitation and release was generously supported by Goslings, Bermuda’s oldest continuously running business and producer of Goslings award-winning Bermuda rums.
“Goslings has been a family business in Bermuda for 213 years,” said E. Malcolm Gosling, seventh-generation patriarch and CEO of Goslings International Limited. “When we learned that Lou-Seal had been rescued off of Bermuda, we immediately wanted to help with the efforts in her rehabilitation and eventual return to the ocean.”
Since her rescue, Lou-Seal has garnered much attention and adoration. Hoping to provide her ‘fans’ with an opportunity to assist in her journey back to the sea, Mystic Aquarium and Goslings accepted donations in support of her care. Through this collaborative fundraising effort, one donor was randomly selected to assist in Lou-Seal’s release.
“We have been traveling to Bermuda twice a year for the past 10 years,” said Denese Koza, the lucky winner who helped open Lou-Seal’s crate at Blue Shutters Beach. “We happened to be in Bermuda when Lou-Seal was found. We also spend our summers a quarter-mile from where she was released.”
While Lou-Seal is no longer in the care of Mystic Aquarium’s veterinary and rescue team, the rehabilitation efforts at their Animal Rescue Clinic have only just begun for the season. Goslings plans to continue their support to help other animals in need of care in Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program through this ongoing fundraising collaborative. Details will follow on Mystic Aquarium’s social media channels.
Mystic Aquarium hopes to have regular updates on Lou-Seal’s travels through those same social media channels.
“Today was a great day for our program,” added Schuh. “Our team of dedicated veterinarians, clinic staff and volunteers put their expertise to work to ensure that her long-journey culminated with her return to the ocean.”