This juvenile male gray seal stranded on the beach of Kittyhawk, North Carolina, on March 17, 2011.
The National Aquarium Animal Rescue Program team worked with staff from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program to transport the seal to the National Aquarium for rehabilitation.
Upon admission, the seal was underweight, severely dehydrated, mildly emaciated, and medically compromised due to a broken lower jaw.
The seal, nicknamed "Guinness" due to his St. Patrick's Day arrival, was treated with antibiotics for several weeks, and underwent surgery to repair the broken jaw.
A veterinary orthopedic surgeon from Chesapeake Veterinary Surgical Specialists assisted Aquarium veterinarians with the surgery. Guinness responded well to treatment and was soon interacting with enrichment devices, the animal equivalent of toys, and eagerly eating.
While in rehab, Guinness gained nearly 30 pounds on a daily diet of herring and capelin. By June 24, Guinness weighed 110 pounds and was eating 7 pounds of fish a day.
On June 24, a healthy Guinness was returned to Ocean City for release back to his natural environment. The Animal Rescue team strives to return stranded animals to the ocean as soon as they are ready, and to minimize human contact while they are in our care, in order to keep the animals from associating humans with food.
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 June 24 to August 10, when we received the last satellite transmission, Guinness traveled more than 1,023 miles!
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