Without help, she wouldn't have survived much longer
*Scroll down to see new images of Lemongrass' release into her ocean home!
As the sun began to set on the summer of 2015, a tiny two-month-old harbor seal pup struggled on rocks in a Biddeford, Maine harbor. Weak and scared, the pup likely became separated from her mother. She probably hadn’t eaten for a long time because she was still a baby and learning how to feed herself. The coloring of her coat offered her protection as it camouflaged her on the rocks, but it also made it more challenging to see her in her state of distress. Luckily for the pup, however, someone spotted her and called for help – and it was just in time.Lemongrass, as she would later be named, was in a very serious condition. Her mouth was covered in blood. She had several cuts and lacerations and had a swollen flipper. She was further at risk from a bad respiratory infection and flies were gathering around her. Without help, she wouldn’t survive much longer.
Luckily, our partner Marine Mammals of Maine (MMoMe) was on the scene. World Animal Protection’s Oceans and Wildlife Campaign Manager Elizabeth Hogan was there to assist Lynda and Dominique of MMoMe, two very experienced rescuers. They had to be cautious in their approach; if they startled her, they feared she might jump into the water, disappear and likely succumb to her injuries. It was critical to her survival that she be reached quickly without causing further distress.
Together, they were able to catch Lemongrass before she realized what was happening. Lemongrass was afraid – she even tried to take a bite out of Elizabeth. But the team was committed to saving her as she would soon learn.
“It was the first time in my life that I still found an animal cute after she nearly bit me!” Elizabeth recalled. “My immediate reaction was to feel sorry for her instead of worrying about getting bitten. She was so small and so scared, I just wanted to let her know that we were going to help her.”
The team rushed Lemongrass back to the triage center. They carefully cleaned her, took her temperature and glucose readings and worked hard to stabilize her through the night. The next morning, they moved her to the National Marine Life Center (NMLC) in Massachusetts. There, they treated her injured muzzle, a respiratory infection and the infection in her rear flipper.
Lemongrass showed steady improvements for the first few weeks. But her battle wasn’t over. She suddenly experienced a frightening setback that put her in critical condition for two weeks. She received IV fluids and tube feedings. And in the months that followed, she required further monitoring and medical attention; the staff at NMLC continued to give her highly specialized care.
Now, we’re so thrilled to report a very happy ending for Lemongrass. The road to recovery was long and arduous, but the dedication of everyone involved saved her life. Earlier this month, a fully-recovered Lemongrass was released back home into her ocean home!
Click here to learn more about our partnership with Marine Mammals of Maine.
See additional photos of her release here.
*Image 1 courtesy of Marine Mammals of Maine; rehab and release images courtesy of National Marine Life Center