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Friday, July 18, 2014

Cassiopeia was ready to go; Athena not so much

Mystic releases healed seals from Narragansett boat launch site instead of Charlestown beaches
By Will Collette

Casseopeia (right) was first out of the gate (Photos by Will Collette)
I sure hope this doesn’t become a regular thing and that Mystic Aquarium comes back to Charlestown for its seal releases. As many readers know, the terrific folks at the Marine Animal Rescue program at Mystic Aquarium have regularly used Charlestown beaches when they release seals (or sea lions) back into the wild after they’ve been patched up by Mystic’s veterinary staff.

The Mystic program is one of the few on the East coast that takes in injured, sick or abandoned marine mammals and restores them to health so they can be returned to the sea.

This latest release took place not at Charlestown Town Beach or Blue Shutters but at the boat launch at State Pier 5 in Narragansett. As always, the release was fun. I find it’s something that never gets old.



Casseopeia gives the crowd one last look before taking the plug
This time, Mystic had two roughly six month old gray seals, Cassiopeia and Athena, who were healthy enough to go back out to sea.

The pier site was pretty crowded and parking was very awkward, even for the Mystic crew. It was a mess trying to untangle all the vehicles after the release was completed.

Instead of being released on soft, shallow sloped beach sand, the seals were released on more sharp sloped hard concrete.

This wasn’t much of a problem for Cassiopeia who was ready to go almost as soon as the gate on her carrier was opened. Athena was reluctant to even leave her cage. I’ve seen pairs releases several times and it’s not uncommon for one seal to be more eager than the other. But Athena seemed especially shy. Cassiopeia stayed close to the waterline and almost seemed to be beckoning to Athena to get with the program.

Athena wasn't so sure this was a good idea - it took a relatively long
time before she was ready to join Casseopeia in the water
When Athena finally left the carrier, she actually turned to try to move up the ramp rather than down to the water and had to be blocked off by the Mystic staff.

Finally, she got the message that her only option was to join Cassiopeia in the water, whereupon they took off for deeper water.

By coincidence, my sister was visiting and we went straight from Kingston Amtrak to the State Pier. After that, we drove out to the Mystic Aquarium to see the rest of the good work they do.


Cathy and I also decided it was time for us to become Mystic Aquarium members because we think their work in public education, environment and marine mammal rescue is terrific. An added bonus is that, as members, we get free admission.