CHARLESTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) ─ A long road to recovery has finally come to an end for a seal taken in earlier this week by Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program.
The aquarium said the adult male harp seal was first spotted eating sand on a beach in Sea Bright, New Jersey last April. The seal was rescued two days later by the Marine Mammal Stranding Center after he was found on a dock in Staten Island, New York.
The seal, according to the aquarium, was extremely underweight, showed signs of being completely blind and was unable to find food on his own.
While he was able to regain most of his weight, the aquarium said his eyesight did not improve over time. In June, he was transported to SeaWorld Orlando where a group of highly-specialized animal care experts examined him.
The aquarium said a veterinarian there determined the seal’s right eye was “damaged beyond repair” and he would not recover his vision. The seal’s eye was then surgically removed to prevent further medical issues.
After spending several months at SeaWorld, the seal eventually learned how to track and catch fish with only one eye, the aquarium said.
Earlier this week, the seal arrived at Mystic Aquarium so he could acclimate to colder water temperatures, and on Friday, he was released back into the ocean at Charlestown Town Beach.
The aquarium said they attached a satellite tag to the seal for “post-release monitoring,” which will track his movements, how much time he spends on land and the water temperatures during his travels.
The seal is the second that the aquarium’s rescue team has released since it resumed operations back in November.