New England stories from the region's top public media newsrooms & NPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Gray seal rescued from fishing gear along NH Seacoast: 'The odds were kind of stacked against her.'

Seacoast Science Center Marine Mammal Rescue shared this photo from the scene: "Once located, we found that the seal had unfortunately gotten the trailing gear wedged between rocks and was anchored in place. In this photo, you can see some of the line around her neck, as well as the white rope leading down into the water, under the rocks."
Courtesy
/
SSC Marine Mammal Rescue
Seacoast Science Center Marine Mammal Rescue shared this photo from the scene: "Once located, we found that the seal had unfortunately gotten the trailing gear wedged between rocks and was anchored in place. In this photo, you can see some of the line around her neck, as well as the white rope leading down into the water, under the rocks."

A gray seal caught in fishing gear was rescued at the Isles of Shoals on Saturday. The animal was stuck in the water with nets and ropes around her neck, anchoring her in place and cutting into her body.

Ashley Stokes, who leads marine mammal conservation at the Seacoast Science Center, says her team sees very few entanglements each year, one or two, if any. And this rescue was particularly complicated. The seal was making her injuries from her entanglement worse while trying to free herself.

"Gray seals tend to be very aggressive, " Stokes said. "And of course, combined with being aggressive, she also knew that she was anchored there. So, the odds were kind of stacked against her. She didn't understand that we were trying to help her."

The team was able to get the seal into a crate and transport her to a rehabilitation facility, where she’s in critical condition. But, Stokes said she ate a fish on her own for the first time yesterday — a step in the right direction.

If someone sees a marine animal struggling, Stokes said the best thing to do is not to intervene.

"That's why we have these trained responders, to be able to help with as minimal an impact on the animal as possible," she said.

People can report the sighting to a local authority. Seacoast Science Center's marine mammal rescue program has a 24/7 hotline for stranded marine mammals, which can be reached at 603-997-9448.

Mara Hoplamazian reports on climate change, energy, and the environment for NHPR.