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Lewes, Delaware
Jim's Towing Service
February 21, 2006     Cape Gazette
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February 21, 2006
 

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Jim Westhoff photo This wayward harp seal attracted a lot of attention in Re- hoboth Beach Monday morning, Feb. 20. Wayward harp seal relocated from Rehoboth By Jim Westhoff Cape Gazette staff A young harp seal picked a rot- ten place for a snooze. The young seal came ashore at Hickman Street and The Boardwalk during the night of Feb. 19-20, and woke up as the center of attention in Rehoboth Beach. The beach he chose was well traveled with tourists, joggers and a few dogs. At about 6:45 a.m., Feb. 20, Rehoboth Beach police received a call reporting the seal. After dis- patching officers to the scene, they put up crime-scene tape and called officials from Marine Education Research and Rehabilitation Institute (MERR). Before police were able to secure the area, people were reportedly coming up to the seal with dogs and trying to pet the creature. One person tried to put blankets on it, thinking the seal was cold, said MERR volunteer Keith Betts. MERR Executive Director Suzanne Thurman decided that the seal had to be moved to a qui- eter location, where it would not be disrupted any further. She said the seal was about 1 year old and appeared very healthy. "It has clear eyes and a clear nose," she said. He was minimally underweight but not enough for concern, she said. Along with three volunteers, Thurman was able to get the seal into a crate normally used for large dogs. The transfer was almost effortless. As soon as someone dropped a blanket on the seal and touched it, the animal stopped moving and barking. "This species often plays dead," she said. The seal was then taken to an undisclosed beach. "When we opened the crate, he wiggled out and went right into the water," Thurman said. "It kept looking back at us, so we're going to keep some volunteers at that beach and watch it if he comes back ashore. Thurman said volunteers will watch the animal to see if it shows any signs of being ill. For now, it seems the seal just picked the wrong place to take a nap. Harp Seals (phoca groenlandi- ca) normally stay in Canadian waters, but in the past 15 years, they have started showing up in waters as far south as North Carolina. "Some researches believe the seals are coming down here because their food sources are being depleted up north," Thurman said. "In the larger pods, the adult males can be very aggressive against young males, even killing them. So we've got these little guys who come down here to get out of the way and seek food." Harp seals can live up to 30 years, and an adult male can weight up to 285 pounds. Baby harp seals are famous for their white coat. Aside from commercial sealers, the main predators harp seals are Greenland sharks, killer whales and polar bears. A not-for-profit organization, MERR responded to 27 seal strandings last year, including five for harp seals. For more information on MERR, visit the website www.merrinstitute.org. l:)elmarva - National Geographic announces their new Trails Illustrated recreation map. Perfect for hiking, biking, and experiencing the Peninsula. These waterproof, J tear-resistant maps provide unique coverage to all eco-tourists at $14.95. To obtain your own Delmarva Peninsula Recreational contact the Cape Gazette at; (302) 645-7700, or visit www.capegazette.com Imagine a place for your story to unfold... Finding the perfect new house for your family feels like coming home. You can envision your family and friends belonging to this house and bringing it to life through the years. This home has to be just right - a perfect balance of expert design and quality craftsmanship - built to reflect your unique spirit. A perfection achieved only by award-winning Stover Homes. When it comes time for your family to build your home, you want a builder who takes pride in the building process from start to finish. For the last 20 years Gary Stover Jr. has built a reputation of selecting the best locations for you to raise your family in a home you can enjoy for generations to come. 1 1