VIRGINIA BEACH (WAVY) — The Virginia Aquarium’s newest seal has had quite the journey to Virginia Beach.
The unnamed seal, which is just over 1 year old, has been rescued three times already.
The first happened in May 2020 when a concerned citizen found him in the water. He was released after months of rehab, but had to be readmitted to the National Marine Life Center (NMLC) in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts two more times for interactions with humans and dogs and for being tangled in fishing gear.
He was eventually deemed non-releasable and taken to the Virginia Aquarium, where he’s currently in quarantine before he joins the aquarium’s other seals, Hector and Rudder. The quarantine is standard procedure before introducing new animals.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for a young, stranded seal to begin a new life,” said William “Chip” Harshaw, Vice-President of Animal Care. “I am also hopeful that we can use his story to illustrate the importance of maintaining a safe distance from marine mammals along our beaches and shorelines.”
The seal will begin behavior training, but it’s crucial that it has a name. The aquarium says it will open a naming auction this week for people to bid on a naming opportunity. The auction will run from June 15 to June 25.
The aquarium reminds anyone who sees a stranded animal on a beach to call the Virginia Aquarium’s Stranding Response Team’s 24-hour hotline at (757) 385-7575.