National Aquarium Releases 200th Rescued Animal

On Tuesday, the National Aquarium's Animal Rescue Team marked an impressive milestone. The team released the 200th animal it has rescued and nursed to health since the program began in 1991.

"Phil," a male harbor seal, wiggled across the beach to freedom at Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook, New Jersey in front of a crowd of onlookers.

Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute volunteers and staff, who are part of the Greater Atlantic Region Stranding Network (GARS) spotted the seal in Delaware and had been monitoring him for several months.

On April 11, after Phil, named for one of the volunteers who found him, became stranded 12 miles inland in Delaware, a team from both organizations rescued the seal and admitted him to the Aquarium’s Animal Care Center in Baltimore.

At the Aquarium, Phil was treated for dehydration, an eye infection and a neurological condition. Aquarium staff carefully monitored and treated him for 12 weeks before he was stable enough to be released back into the wild.

“Returning a healthy animal to its natural habitat is always a joyful occasion for our team and it further provides us with the opportunity to inspire the public to make thoughtful choices each day to help our aquatic populations," says Jennifer Dittmar, Curator of Animal Rescues for the Aquarium.

"Stories like Phil’s bring the issues to life and create meaningful links between our actions and the differences we can make.” 

The National Aquarium's animal rescue program responds to stranded marine mammals and sea turtles along more than 4,300 miles of Maryland's coastline. The program works with the GARS Network to respond to, rescue and release stranded animals.