The Greta Garbo of Seal Releases

The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation is responsible for administering the New York State Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program. It is the only organization in New York State that is tasked with rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing seals, dolphins, sea turtles, and whales in the state.

This is the account of the release of one such animal, a harp seal that was sent back into the wild on Saturday, 19 March 2005. Here she is lolling in her transportation enclosure. One might expect that she would eagerly await the opening of the door and the welcome of a beautiful blue ocean.

When the time came to exit the transportation module...

Just as with that famous Hollywood star, it looks like she wants nothing if not to be left alone.

Finally coaxed from her domicile, she looks around for the one who was so rude. "And who booted me out on this unfriendly beach? As if the weeks of poking and prodding where not enough of an indignity.... Where are they? I'll get 'em."

"I said, no cameras!"

"There they are! I'm going to teach them a thing or two. Nobody pushes me around."

"You think you're pretty tough with your red board, don't you? Put down that board and we'll see who's boss!"

Rescue Program Director Kim Durham, no stranger to the varieties of seal release experiences, stands resolute and curiously unimpressed.


Wait a minute.... Is that... the ocean...?

(Wait for the animation to load.) It was said by many, who had had previous experience with seal releases, that they'd never seen a seal move so fast. There is argument in some quarters about whether or not she actually touched the sand once she got moving.