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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Luna braves the waves for journey home

Mystic Aquarium completes second seal release in two weeks from Blue Shutters Beach
By Will Collette
Luna confronts the unknown - the surf

I've been covering Mystic Aquarium's Marine Animal Rescue program almost since Progressive Charlestown's 2011 launch (click here for my first article). But even though these releases are carefully regimented by Mystic for the sea creature's safety as well as the human onlookers, they are also different each time and, to me, don't get old.

Two weeks ago, Mystic released Dill, a pretty little harp seal who goofed around on the beach before a large crowd before finally diving into the water and taking off.

This time, Luna the harbor seal was greeted by only a small crowd who were nonetheless appreciative of the chance to see this beautiful, sleek animal return to the wild. Unlike Dill, Luna had been at the Aquarium for quite a while - a year since he was found abandoned on a Maine beach when only a few days old.

One of the Mystic volunteers told me she was one of the sweetest seals they've ever had, especially since the Aquarium is just about the only home Luna has known. So Luna's return to the ocean was a bit of a shock to her system.

With confidence, Luna goes trucking down the beach
The surf was running a bit high and though she took the first wave well, diving into the base of the wave, she got pushed back onto the beach by the breakers and then had a hard time figuring out what these wave things are. There's nothing like ocean waves back in her home tank in Mystic.

For the first time I can remember, I wasn't entirely sure this release was going to succeed but I obviously have less patience - not to mention experience - than the Aquarium folks who let Luna just figure it out.

She kept getting pushed back by the waves, sometimes tumbling in the surf. It almost seemed like she was looking to the humans on shore for help.
But of course she made it and cast a few looks back before taking off for open waters.
And of course, she finally did by diving in and going under the breakers until she could pop up in open water and look back at the crowd on the beach.

The Mystic Aquarium is a wonderful place. Cathy and I are proud to be members. They count on donations for their support so if you'd like to support their work, please click here.