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In This Place

"Scout" The Seal Pup Heads Back To The Wild

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Marine mammal strandings are common along the shores of Cape Cod. The National Marine Life Center in Bourne is one of several local organizations who care for stranded marine mammals, recently taking in 30 of the hundreds of cold-stunned turtles that stranded this year along Cape Cod beaches. And yesterday, volunteers from the Center also released a rehabilitated seal pup named Scout at Scusset Beach in Sandwich. Our Reporter Brian Morris was there, and has this report.

As he scratched at his enclosure in the back of a station wagon, it was clear that Scout was anxious to be let out. The seal pup is named for the boat owned by Cape Cod Canal builder August Belmont. He was found on Sandy Neck beach in October, said Kathy Zygzebski, the National Marine Life Center's Executive Director.

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Credit Brian Morris/WCAI
Scout wants out.

“He originally came in at the beginning of October with flipper lacerations, severe respiratory issues, malnourished and dehydrated,” she said. “If he wasn’t eating fish properly, if he wasn’t being very successful at catching fish. It looks like perhaps he had a run-in with a shark or with something in the environment that caused his flipper lacerations. So just getting a little bit sick, and then didn’t have enough blubber reserves and enough size on him to really improve.”

Under the care of the National Marine Life Center, Scout's health has steadily rebounded over the last two months. At 10 AM on a recent morning, Marine Life Center personnel each grabbed a corner of the small enclosure and walked Scout down the path towards the beach. 

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Credit Brian Morris/WCAI
Volunteers from the National Marine Life Center carry Scout down to the beach, where he'll be released.

On a ridge just above the surf, a volunteer opened the enclosure.

Scout poked his head out, looked around cautiously for a minute, as if waiting for permission. Then, the young seal pup headed straight for the surf without looking back.

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Credit Brian Morris/WCAI
Scout emerges from his enclosure and starts making his way towards the water.

Kate Shaffer is the Animal Care and Facilities Coordinator for the National Marine Life Center. She said it was a textbook release.

“We really like to see when they kinda just book it back into the wild. It’s sort of some justification and gratification that they wanna be out there, and they appreciate our effort,” Shaffer said.

After pausing briefly to bid Scout farewell, staffers and volunteers head back to resume their latest task: caring for 30 cold-stunned turtles that recently washed ashore.