Six months after he was first rescued from a marsh in Maine, Noodle the 2-year-old porpoise has been set free.
The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation released the small-toothed whale about five miles off of Shinnecock Inlet Saturday morning, marking the end of the porpoise’s rehabilitation.
Noodle was found by a group of school children on a field trip last October, just a week before Hurricane Sandy slammed the East Coast.
The young male porpoise couldn’t float on its own during the first 24 hours of its rescue, so researchers used foam noodles to keep him from sinking. The modified pool toys earned the porpoise his name: Noodle.
Noodle was fitted with a satellite tag to track his movements before he was released. You can track his location by visiting the Riverhead Foundation website.
Nonprofit groups from New England helped move Noodle to the Riverhead Foundation’s care facility at the Long Island Aquarium. The Riverhead nonprofit is home to the only long-term rehabilitation tank large enough for an animal like Noodle in the region.
“It’s like having one hospital bed from Virginia to Maine,” said executive director and senior biologist for the foundation Robert DiGiovanni Jr. in an interview earlier this month.
Usually this type of marine animal is already too injured to be saved once found, he said.
The group has rescued more than 4,300 marine animals since it was founded in 1980. They now rehabilitate about 200 animals a year.
The group plans to release two seals brought in last month, Nala, a female gray seal, and Shenzi, a male harbor seal, Sunday afternoon, according to the group’s Facebook page.