Another gray seal entangled in fishing line came ashore this weekend — only this time rescuers were able to free her.
Kim Durham, the rescue program coordinator and a biologist with the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, said the organization received a call on Sunday from a couple who spotted her on a private beach in Montauk. Photographs show the female pup, weighing about 30 pounds, was wrapped in what appears to be a trawler net. Durham said a fragment was lodged in her body.
They were able to remove the netting, but an infection from where the gear cut into her caused them to admit her to the hospital. "There's no reason why she can't recover. She's on antibiotics," Durham said.
This seal is a different one from the entanged seal sighting on Napeague East Hampton Patch reported last week. Durham said that seal, which swam away on Thursday before the foundation could respond, was a gray male pup wrapped in gill netting.
The couple, who were visiting from Ireland, first saw the seal in the morning, but weren't sure who exactly to call to come help. They eventually found the Riverhead Foundation. Two rescuers recovered the seal from about a half-mile east of Ranch Road at about 7 p.m., Durham said.
With the help of the couple, they carried the seal in a dog kennel — not the easiest of tasks as they had to hike up through a cliff to get to their vehicle. The seal was also a bit feisty, snapping and lunging at the rescuers.
She is recovering in a tank at the foundation's headquarters in Riverhead, where she is being treated for her wounds. Durham said she isn't taking fish from them just yet.
Durham said she is a little underweight at 30 pounds, and was likely just born in January. Pups only nurse about three weeks before separating from their mother.
While there have been a few sighting of entangled seals on the South Fork, Durham said there doesn't appear to be more than usual. "It could be a population thing. The gray seals are doing quite well," she said, adding they eat the same fish that are being caught in the nets from fishermen. Some seals, she said, are just better than others of stealing fish from the nets.
The rescue serves as a reminder, she said, for beach-goers to call the foundation right away if they spot a seal in distress. "We encourage people not to try and cut the netting themselves," she said. Gray seals are protected species.
A video, attached to this article, shows the seal lunging and growling at the rescuers. "They're not just wild animals you are dealing with, but an injured animals," she siad.
The foundation's 24-Hour Stranding Hotline is 631-369-9829.
The gear taken off the seal will be sent to National Marine Fisheries Service for research to better understand how the seal gets caught in the netting and if improvements are necessary, Durham said.
Also this weekend, the Riverhead Foundation responded to Amagansett and Westhampton to retrieve animals.
A dead harbor harbor porpoise was picked off a beach off Cranberry Hole Road. Durham said it was emaciated. Biologists will examine it on Monday afternoon.
Rescuers also took a female gray seal pup off of Cupsogue County Park in Westhampton on Sunday, after it was found "lethargic and not responsive," Durham said. Underweight at about 30 pounds, she was brought to a tank and has "sassed up a bit" since arriving. A veterinarian noted some puncture marks on her body that were infected and she is being treated.