National Aquarium - Hastings Animal Rescue

Hastings' Story


This juvenile male harbor seal was stranded along the Atlantic coast of Maryland, in the town of Ocean City, on January 15, 2010. The National Aquarium's Animal Rescue Program responded, and the seal was admitted to the National Aquarium for rehabilitation. 

Upon admission, the seal was underweight, severely dehydrated, mildly emaciated, and medically compromised due to a wound behind the left front flipper.

In addition to the wound, he was found to have an upper respiratory infection and a mild case of pneumonia at the time of being admitted for rehab.


The seal, called Hastings, was treated with antibiotics for several weeks, and his wound was treated every three days for two weeks.

Hastings responded well to treatment and was soon interacting with enrichment devices, the animal equivalent of toys, and eagerly eating.

While in rehab, Hastings gained nearly 20 pounds on a daily diet of herring and capelin.

He was offered enrichment items to interact with, like frozen fishcicles and a holey bucket with fish inside, to encourage natural feeding behaviors.


On May 13, a healthy Hastings was returned to Ocean City for release back to his natural environment.


Prior to release, Animal Rescue staff affixed a satellite transmitter to his back, which falls off when the seal molts (similar to when a dog sheds its fur).

The transmitter allows us to track and monitor the animal post-release, and will help scientists to understand the migration and feeding patterns of these animals. Learn more about the importance of animal tracking here.

From May 13 to July 1, when we received the last satellite transmission, Hastings traveled more than 1,175 miles!


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