National Aquarium Staff Rehabbing Harbor Seal Found Stranded in Delaware

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Photo via National Aquarium

A harbor seal that now goes by Phil is being nursed back to full health at the National Aquarium after being found stranded in a river in Delaware.

Since April 11, Phil has been staying at the National Aquarium’s animal care center in Fells Point, according to an update posted on the aquarium’s blog today. Monitors first noticed Phil in November, when the seal wandered up a river in central Delaware.

Unfortunately, the place he picked wasn’t a good one, as it had ample mud, but little water. In a troubling scene to imagine, Phil was struggling to move or find food nearby.

Luckily, Jennifer Dittmar and Kate Shaffer from the National Aquarium’s animal rescue team and staff and volunteers from the Lewes, Del.-based Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute stepped in. Working together, they freed Phil from the muck and whisked him away to Baltimore, where he has a safe environment to recover.

Aquarium rescue staff weren’t available to comment firsthand on Phil’s condition on Wednesday.

However, the aquarium said in its blog update that Phil has begun eating on his own again and has become “active and alert,” but is still being treated for dehydration and an eye infection with medication and clean water.

Once he makes his recovery, he’ll be released back into the ocean, the aquarium said.

Harbor seals are common along the East Coast, though they’re mainly found between coastal Canada and New York and sometimes in the Carolinas, according to the NOAA. Still, seal sightings aren’t uncommon in Maryland.

Three years ago, National Aquarium staff stepped in to help save a harbor seal found suffering from a shark bite in Ocean City. With assistance from first responders, they transported it to the animal rescue facility in Fells Point, where staff helped stabilize the animal and provide initial care. The seal was then transported to a long-term care facility in New Jersey.

The aquarium is getting a new $20 million animal care facility in Jonestown next year to replace the current one. Construction began in February, and officials expect it will be open sometime next year.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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