A young male harbor seal is in critical condition after it was found stranded by Mattituck Inlet off Love Lane early Sunday, according to officials at the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.
Robert DiGiovanni, director and senior biologist at the nonprofit foundation, said researchers were notified of the seal first thing Sunday – by noon volunteers had brought the distressed seal back to their marine center.
The seal came in underweight, at 86 pounds, and measured about 5 feet in length, Mr. DiGiovanni said.
Harbor seals are commonly found in Long Island waters this time of year, and can grow up to 6 feet long, weighing up to about 245 pounds, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“We were tube feeding it fluids and trying to get it to eat fish,” he said. “We did a physical examination and are assessing its condition. It is very lethargic and in critical condition – we still have a very long way to go.”
Mr. DiGiovanni said researchers are awaiting blood sample and medical culture results to determine what is wrong with the seal. It may take a couple of days, he said.
The cost to fully rehabilitate a harbor seal ranges between $10,000 and $12,000, depending on the length of stay at the foundation, officials said.
In the past week, two cold-stunned sea turtles have also showed up in Peconic and Mattituck, according to the foundation.
“The message we would like to get out is please report them to the hotline number immediately – and don’t assume the animals are dead. They may seem lifeless but they may not actually be dead.”
To report a sighing of a stranded marine animal call the foundation hotline at 631-369-9829.