You picked a fine time to leave us, Lou-Seal
An injured grey seal found near Tobacco Bay last month has been flown to the US for release back into the wild.
The female seal, named “Lou-Seal” by the staff at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo, was taken to the US on Wednesday on a chartered flight organised by Cargojet.
Patrick Talbot, curator at the BAMZ, said: “The simple fact that this animal was able to cross the open ocean, through winter storms, with nothing to eat, and find the one minuscule piece of land in the Atlantic Ocean, where she could actually receive rehabilitative care, is miraculous.
“There was and continues to be a huge amount of local support for our first-time visitor.
“Bermudians are known for their friendliness and love for their environment and it was not long before people rallied to help her.”
Lou-Seal made headlines when members of the public found the emaciated animal on the rocks in the East End on March 19.
Veterinarians at BAMZ said the animal was dehydrated and had suffered several small wounds.
Grey seals are common in the North Atlantic, but she was the first to be recorded in Bermuda.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, US Fish and Wildlife, Bermuda’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources the US Consulate and Customs and Border Protection in Bermuda worked together to fly the seal to the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut.
The international effort was aided by the BAMZ and the Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Clinic.
Ainsley Smith, the stranding co-ordinator for NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region, said: “We appreciate Mystic Aquarium’s willingness to assist BAMZ with the rehabilitation of this out-of-habitat seal.
“This is another great example of multiple organisations working together in the animal’s best interest.”
After Lou-Seal cleared inspection with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Mystic Aquarium veterinary and Animal Rescue Programme staff drove her to Mystic’s Animal Rescue Clinic.
Lou-Seal will get further care to help improve her health and regain body weight at the clinic.
Janelle Schuh, Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue programme manager, said: “We have many years of experience caring for grey seals in our Animal Rescue Programme, so we are very familiar with the species — however, this will be the first time that we provide care to an adult grey seal in the clinic.
“Our team of veterinarians and dedicated clinic staff and volunteers will put this expertise to work to continue the great care she received in Bermuda to ensure that her long journey culminates with her return to the ocean.”
She added: “Any time that you can help an animal in need it is rewarding, but to be a part of such a huge collaborative effort to help this wayward seal is really something.
“It is truly inspiring how so many people worked together towards the success of this animal.”