Aquarium workers rescue stressed seal pup in Hull

HULL MA. 02/26/13: New England Aquarium staff rescue a grey pup seal on Hull Beach by D Street. ( David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo ) SECTION: METRO TOPIC 27sealrescuephoto
The Aquarium said it moved the pup to a quieter place.
David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

A group of admirers put a 6-week-old gray seal pup in such grave danger that it had to be rescued this afternoon, New England Aquarium spokesman Tony LaCasse said.

Using nylon “crowder boards” and a dog kennel, Aquarium workers rescued the 25-pound female pup from a popular Hull beach just after 2 p.m. Earlier, police had noticed many people crowded close to the seal, giving the animal so much attention it needed to be relocated for safety reasons, LaCasse said.

Wild animals are incredibly sensitive to stress, he said, and often traumatic events can lead to animals’ decline. Because the pup was born so recently, she is “right on the margins of surviving,” LaCasse said.

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“We relocated her to a much more secluded, quiet natural reserve on the South Shore to get the rest she needs,” LaCasse said.

It is common for winter beach walkers from Plymouth to Cape Ann to see seals on the beach this time of year, though this year has seen even greater pup numbers, LaCasse said. Gray seals had been mostly absent from the Bay State’s shores until 20 years ago, when the population began to increase. LaCasse said despite the seals’ resurgence, many people are unaware of how to keep the seals safe.

“We teach people to watch from a safe distance,” LaCasse said, emphasizing staying at least 50 yards away from seals, keeping quiet, keeping dogs away, and not feeding the animals.

The rescued pup, still mostly white with much of her birth coat and with black spotting on her face, is not exhibiting any significant health concerns because of stress, and will not require any rehabilitation after today’s rescue, LaCasse said.

“We really would have preferred to leave this animal alone,” he said.