April 2, 2005 in Nation/World

Lost seal makes a run for dry land

The Spokesman-Review
Associated Press photo

New England Aquarium field biologist Belinda Rubinstein cares for a small harp seal in the driveway of a Middleboro, Mass., home Tuesday.
(Full-size photo)

MIDDLEBORO, Mass. – Why did the seal cross the road?

A young harp seal native to the Canadian Arctic found its way to a landlocked suburban town Tuesday and waddled around on land before being rescued.

The seal swam about 30 miles up the Taunton River and two of its flood-swollen tributaries before setting out onto dry land, said marine biologist Belinda Rubinstein of the New England Aquarium.

It crossed a road before being spotted around 6:30 a.m. by a homeowner, who called police. The aquarium dispatched a team of scientists and volunteers to corral the seal and return it to safety.

Rubinstein, an expert on harp seals, said they are plentiful in the Arctic and often pass through New England waters on their winter migration. Still, it is unusual for any seal to make its way so far inland.

“It was a long, long way away from ocean,” Rubinstein said.

Scientists were hoping to send the 34-pound seal, nicknamed Squirt, to the University of New England’s marine science center in Biddeford, Maine.

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