LOWER TOWNSHIP — A young gray seal pup was apparently climbing onto a jetty and slipped between some of the rocks, according to Sheila Dean, co-director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine. The seal had nothing to grab onto for pulling itself out.
Some fishermen were heading out on the jetty to do some fishing, heard a noise and spotted a little face peeking out from a small opening in the rocks. After a few calls, fisherman Bob Gerber located the number for the Stranding Center.
The Marine Mammal Stranding Center team quickly dispatched one of their Cape May County volunteers to the scene to watch over the seal while their staff took the one hour trip from Brigantine to Higbee Beach on the Delaware Bay.
Once the Brigantine staff was on scene, they knew it was going to be a challenge to pull the little but chubby seal out of the small opening in the rocks without hurting him or getting bitten. Seals can deliver a nasty bite with their sharp teeth.
Jay Pagel, the head stranding center technician, reached in with a towel and grabbed the 63-pound pup by the flippers and pulled him out.
The Stranding Center does not advise this technique to anyone. The best thing to do if you come across a seal that seems in distress is to call the center at 609-266-0538, a line that is monitored 24/7, according to the center's website.
The seal was driven back to the center for evaluation and rest, since the group has no idea how long it had been stuck in the rocks. Besides some small cuts and minor swelling in his flippers, the 3-4 month old gray seal pup seemed none the less for wear.
The seal is now resting quietly in the center's tanks, and its veterinarian has prescribed some medication for his injuries.
He should be fit to go back to sea in a couple of weeks.
For more information on the Stranding Center see mmsc.org.