Grey seal Louis Armstrong is released at Assateague Island National Seashore on June 3, 2022. Photo by David Coffey/National Aquarium.

Although a grey seal named Louis Armstrong began his musical career as more of a solo act, staff at the National Aquarium hope he will find fellow song-loving seals after returning to the ocean Friday.

Louis, who gained his nickname for his loud trumpeting style of communication, was released after 14 weeks of rehabilitation at the National Aquarium’s Animal Care and Rescue Center (ACRC) for injuries to his face and flipper.

Louis was rescued at Assateague Island National Seashore and soon after arrived at the ACRC on Feb. 26.

At just a few weeks old weighing 35 pounds, the young seal was without a mother to provide nutrition and support.

The National Aquarium cared for Louis, who arrived at the ACRC severely dehydrated, and eventually taught him to swim and forage for his food on his own.

The ACRC began offering guided tours of their facility last month, where guests can learn how staff care for sick and injured marine animals and how animal habitat elements are created for the aquarium’s exhibits.

The aquarium and its partners at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration medically cleared him for release and he was returned to the ocean on June 3 at Assateague Island National Seashore.

Louis had grown to 75 pounds by the time of his release, gaining 40 pounds during his rehabilitation.

Grey seal Louis Armstrong is released at Assateague Island National Seashore on June 3, 2022. Photo by David Coffey/National Aquarium.

The aquarium will track Louis by using a non-invasive temporary satellite tag that was affixed to him with adhesive and is expected to stay attached until the seal’s next molt.

The tag will send readings of Louis’s depth and location, which will help assure aquarium staff of Louis’s well-being and provide insight into the migration and breeding habits of seals in the region.

Louis was also fitted with a flipper tag to alert other institutions to his history at the National Aquarium.

A DNA sample from Louis was shared with the researchers at the University of Maine who are studying seal populations along the East Coast. Their research includes seals’ migration habits, genetic links among colonies, and how infection and illness impact some grey and harbor seals but not others.

With Louis’s release, the National Aquarium also raised awareness for World Oceans Day on June 8.

“With Louis’s release taking place the week leading up to World Oceans Day, the National Aquarium is taking the opportunity to reflect on the ocean that he is returning to ensure that the Aquarium is doing everything it can to improve ocean health and protect aquatic life,” aquarium officials wrote in a release.

The aquarium pointed to environmental legislation within the Biden administration’s Build Back Better bill, as well as the administration’s “America the Beautiful” environmental conservation initiative, as important steps to address climate change.

“Better land and marine conservation means more parks, expanded access to nature, enhanced wildlife protection and investment in jobs and science that support overall environmental health,” aquarium officials said. “The best way to celebrate World Oceans Day is to support legislation that supports human, animal and planet health, today and every day.”

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Marcus Dieterle

Marcus Dieterle is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He returned to Baltimore in 2020 after working as the deputy editor of the Cecil Whig newspaper in Elkton, Md. He can be reached at