Aquarium volunteers assist a grey seal
It is not unusual for human visitors to Chappaquiddick searching for the infamous Dike Bridge to get lost on one of the small island's winding dirt roads and driveways. But marine mammals? On Sunday a wayward grey seal took a wrong turn and ended up on Litchfield Road about one mile from the nearest beach or bridge.
That prompted a call to the New England Aquarium which relies on a team of approximately 25 trained volunteers on the Island to assist with any incidents that involve a stranding or beaching of marine mammals.
Volunteers David Grunden and his wife Sharon Stevens-Grunden and Kate Conde, who works for The Trustees of Reservations, responded. Mr. Grunden, who is also Oak Bluffs shellfish constable, said that with the assistance of two bystanders the seal was captured and placed in a small kennel so it could safely be transported to Norton Point Beach where it was released back to the ocean on Monday morning.
A young grey seal lies on Litchfield Road. Photos by Sharon Stevens-Grunden
Mr. Grunden said that it is not unusual to find a grey seal some distance from the water. He estimated it occurs two or three times a year, but he had no explanation for the behavior.
The most common reason people call about seals occurs when a seal hauls itself out of the water to rest on a beach. Mr. Grunden said that in most cases the seal is perfectly fine.
In any case, he said people should not disturb a seal resting on a beach and federal law protects marine mammals, including whales and turtles that wash up on a beach. The Island volunteers work under the auspices of the New England Aquarium and only with authorization from aquarium personnel, according to Mr. Grunden.
The New England Aquarium stranding hotline telephone number is 617-973-5247.