A gray seal that settled down in a pond and eluded capture for days finally turned himself into the police in the early hours of Friday, surprising and delighting the residents of Beverly, Massachusetts. Actually, there is video evidence to support this.
On September 17, the Beverly Police Department posted on Facebook, “Over the past two days the department has received numerous calls about a seal that has settled in the Shoe Pond next to the police station on the Cummings Center Property.” The seal “appears cheerful, healthy, and has a large food supply in his current position,” according to our animal control officer.
After the name of his preferred pond, Shoebert, the misplaced marine mammal gained some notoriety among people eager to see the intrepid pinniped. It is believed that Shoebert crossed from the sea into a river and then into the pond through a drainage pipe.
The gray seal is still swimming freely in Shoe Pond, according to a Facebook post from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries New England/Mid-Atlantic on September 21. On September 19, it independently transitioned from the smaller lower pond to the bigger upper pond.
Biologists measured the pond’s depth earlier today and observed how the seal behaved. Two rescue divers from the Beverly Fire Department were brought in to inspect the pond’s bottom conditions. If a rescue is required, this information will help our response teams be more prepared. All of these groups’ help is greatly appreciated!
Aside from attempts to catch Shoebert in a net, his new community showed Shoebert a lot of love by producing T-shirts in his honor and briefly modifying the police department’s Facebook emblem to incorporate a seal.
Ainsley Smith, the Mammal Stranding Coordinator for NOAA Fisheries, told Boston25 that “it’s quite the journey for him.” It’s fine to be in the pond, but we don’t want any humans to be in its path if it decides to emerge from the water and move onto the grass, cross the road, or move into the parking lot.
He did, in fact, cross the parking lot. Shoebert, everyone’s favorite seal, paid us a visit at around 2.30 am on September 23, 22nd, according to a Beverly PD Facebook post. Shoebert emerged from the pond, proceeded through the parking lot of the Cummings Center, and arrived at the police station’s side entrance to request assistance.
As it transpired, surveillance footage showed Shoebert bouncing about the parking lot and being hailed by an officer who appeared to be a little perplexed.
“With no problems, we were able to place Shoebert in a special wildlife carrier. Shoebert was a touch feisty in the early morning hours and seemed to be in good health, according to Beverly PD.
After that, Shoebert was brought to Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut for a checkup and some tender loving care. According to Sarah Callan, manager of the aquarium’s animal rescue program, “He is acting like a regular, feisty, four-year-old gray seal.”
In a further twist, Shoebert was already tagged, so this wasn’t his first rodeo. It turns out that the young animal had previously been saved in Cape Cod when he was still a pup and had even been delivered to the same aquarium. He is not unfamiliar to us. He’s completed the circle. In 2018, he was freed in Rhode Island, according to Callan,” NBC Boston reported.
Staff members could easily identify Shoebert as the same puppy who had been given to them by the International Fund for Animal Welfare thanks to his unusual facial scarring. He received a thorough examination, including blood work and X-rays, and was judged to be in good health. He was smaller than the typical adult of his species, weighing only 106 kilos (235 pounds), but Shoebert is still only four years old. Adult male gray seals attain sexual maturity at age six.
“We are hoping to release him in a peaceful, distant spot near other seals,” Callan said to Boston25.
Block Island, in Rhode Island, would be that place. Shoebert is contributing to science since the aquarium outfitted him with a satellite tracker to provide researchers with information on seal ranges.
In a world where ocean dynamics are changing at an alarming rate, getting data on Shoebert’s health and movements since his initial admission for rehabilitation in 2018 is vital, according to Callan, according to NBC Boston.
“Shoebert’s contributions to science and research will aid in our understanding of the ecology and importance of the gray seal species as a whole.”