Seal deemed too friendly heading to Detroit
A seal that enjoyed New Jersey beaches is headed for Detroit. It had become a little too friendly with people.
Since March, the 100-pound female gray seal had stopped on Long Island, New York, and New Jersey beaches. Each time, animal rescue groups shooed it back into the water. Or they treated it for illness or injury. But the seal kept coming back.
When people started petting the seal on a beach in Longport, New Jersey, on Sept. 5, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center removed it. The seal had become too used to being around humans.
"We would see it ... swimming among the bathers, not bothering anybody, but clearly too used to humans being around," said Bob Schoelkopf. He is director of the stranding center. "In Longport, it came ashore and kids went up and started petting it. That's what sealed its fate."
The animal's odyssey began on March 9. That's when the young seal was first found with a swollen flipper. It was picked up by officials. Three months later, it was healthy. It was released on June 14.
On July 10, state animal officials received a call about a seal on the beach. It had a fishing hook lodged in its mouth. A technician removed the hook. The seal went back into the water.
But two days later, the seal was back ashore again. The stranding center picked it up. The animal had a cough and it was given antibiotics. The seal was released at Sandy Hook on Aug. 18. The animal had gained 21 pounds at the rescue center.
After that, the stranding center received many reports of a seal swimming near bathers, Schoelkopf said. Some had fed it.
It was decided that the seal had become too used to humans. For its safety, the seal could never return to the ocean. So federal wildlife officials were called. They found a home for it at the Detroit Zoo.
The zoo will have a contest to name it.