Rehabbed Seal Gets Send-off at Hampton Beach

Mar 16, 2018

Mack has been recovering at the National Marine Life Center in Bourne, Mass., before his release from Hampton Beach this Sunday.
Credit National Marine Life Center

A young harp seal who spent a month recuperating after getting stranded on Hampton Beach will be released on Sunday.

It’s only the second time the Seacoast Science Center has helped release a seal in New Hampshire waters.

The year-old seal is named Merrimack, or Mack for short. He was found on Hampton Beach on Valentine's Day.

Seacoast Science Center marketing director Karen Provazza says Mack was alert and chatty, but also seemed sick and confused.

Harp seals are born on ice in Canada and like to eat snow, but Mack was eating sand off the beach. 

So the Seacoast Center sent him to the National Marine Life Center on Cape Cod for treatment.

"After about a week in care, he started eating fish on his own,” Provazza says. “And after four weeks, he was fat, and fit, and ready to be released back into the wild."

A bystander took this picture of Mack the day he was first found on Hampton Beach. The Seacoast Center says the discharge around his eyes was a sign of infection.
Credit MJ Keeler via Facebook

Most of the Marine Life Center's patients are released on the Cape, but Mack is getting a special send-off.

Provazza says people can come to Hampton Beach this Sunday at 5:15 p.m. to learn about the Seacoast Science Center’s marine mammal rescue program and watch Mack return to the ocean.

"He should just make his way right down to the water,” she says. “Sometimes they swim around and look back a little bit, but he should just swim away."

Mack is New Hampshire's third seal stranding so far this year.

Winnie, short for Winnicut, was released on the Cape this week. Saco, found on a road in Seabrook during the early March nor'easter, is in guarded but improving condition.

They're all named for New England rivers as part of the Marine Life Center's annual seal naming theme.

Provazza says the only other seal the Seacoast Science Center has brought back to New Hampshire for release was Oregano, a harbor seal, during a year of spice names in 2015.