For my Birthday this year, my amazing colleagues at work symbolically adopted me a seal. They know seals are my favorite animals, so this was the perfect gift for me! I was beyond thrilled; this was definitely one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received. I love how this gift provided a donation to a cause I adore. The specific seal my colleagues adopted for me is Hagrid (inspired by the lovable Hagrid in the Harry Potter franchise).
Hagrid is a male grey seal weanling. According to the National Marine Life Center’s (NMLC) website, Hagrid was their first grey seal of 2019. He was just a pup when he was found stranded in Newbury, MA on February 28th. When he was brought to the NMLC, Hagrid was underweight and had a nasty tail injury. He eventually required an amputation of his tail, not flippers. Luckily, Hagrid thrived whilst being rehabilitated, gaining enough weight to be released, as well as the amputation site healing up nicely.
On June 16th, after religiously checking the Facebook page of the National Marine Life Center, I was made aware that Hagrid was to be released at 6PM on June 18th, 2019. My work had already made it clear that no matter what day it was, I could head out early to attend Hagrid’s release. I excitedly headed out of work at 3:00ish, and made my way down to Sandwich, MA where the release was to be held.
Scusset Beach State Reservation, the location of the seal release, is absolutely gorgeous. The water was calm, and the beach was quiet. This was such a perfect place for the seals to be comfortably released. The weather during Hagrid’s release was very cloudy, and a little foggy. However, it wasn’t too cold. The rain held off, only sprinkling on and off. When I first got there, there were a few NMLC volunteers awaiting the seals for release. They had not yet set up the release area, as they section off where you are allowed to stand. It is key to stay the appropriate distance away and to be quiet so that the seals are not startled. I would like to note that the NMLC Volunteers were very approachable, informative and friendly. This whole experience was terrific, and everyone had a smile on their face.
Excitingly enough, Hagrid was not the only seal that was to be released. Hagrid shared his release day with another seal by the name of Snitch (another Harry Potter reference). Snitch is a very large male yearling harp seal. According to the NMLC, on May 8th Snitch was stranded and rescued from Higgins Beach, ME by Marine Mammals of Maine. He was brought to the center on May 10th, with lungworms that caused him to have trouble breathing, as well as dehydration and liver disease. These were addressed quickly, and Snitch made a full recovery. Even with all the health problems Snitch faced, he came to the center weighing in at 33.8 kg! I believe it because seeing Snitch released, I couldn’t believe how large he was!
Despite being released at the same exact time, Hagrid was way more slow to journey to the water than Snitch. Snitch exited right out of his carrier, needing no assistance from the volunteers. Once he excited, he was very speedy, making his name Snitch, after the quick Golden Snitch in Harry Potter, to be quite fitting. He made right to the water, and was off within seconds. He did not wait around, he was ready to get himself out there on his next journey.
Unlike Snitch, Hagrid was quite slow to get to the water. He needed a little assistance to help him out of his carrier. Once out, the volunteers did need to use these flat wooden boards to direct Hagrid the correct way to the water.
It was a little sad to see this, as he looked like he did not want to go at all. Eventually, Hagrid made his way to the water. He cautiously lowered himself into the water at the ocean’s edge. Slowly, he continued to inch his way further and further into the water.
Hagrid did not take off right away. He continued to stay within eyesight, bobbing his head in and out of the water.
The NMLC volunteers continued to stand at the ocean’s edge, to make sure Hagrid did not come back onto the beach. They explained how someone will come check to make sure Hagrid didn’t re-strand himself over the next few days.
After some time, Hagrid finally took off and couldn’t be seen anymore. That is when everyone with the NMLC packed up and headed off the beach. I was comforted, knowing that although they were leaving now, that they would continue to make sure Hagrid did not re-strand himself. At this point, I decided to head home.
What an absolutely amazing, bittersweet and gratifying experience this was. I would 100% recommend attending one of the National Marine Life Center’s seal releases. You can check from time to time to see if you can attend by staying updated on their Instagram and Facebook pages. If you are interested in symbolically adopting your own seal, or even a turtle, I highly encourage you to. You will get a professional photo of the adopted animal, a certificate with your name and the animal’s name certifying the adoption, and a plush animal. You can adopt an animal here.
There’s many other ways to support the National Marine Life Center. You can make donations here. Also, you could buy items off the organization’s wish list, can become a member, can shop on the online gift shop, volunteer and more! Please consider supporting this incredible non-profit organization. The National Marine Life Center tirelessly dedicates their love and time to rehabilitating these animals until they are strong and healthy enough to return back to the sea. Any little you can give, will provide ample help to the organization that acts as an animal hospital, science and education center. It is important to support the research and science of our precious oceans and marine life.