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Nellie returns to the sea

Canadian harp seal.
Canadian harp seal.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Nellie, the harp seal floundered across 100 feet of sandy shore under the Ponquogue Bridge in Hampton Bays, out on the east end of Long Island back to the sea via the Shinnecock Bay after nearly 7 weeks in rehab at the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation. Believed to have originally come from Canada, the 1-year was found malnourished and suffering from respiratory congestion and dehydration on the beach at Coney Island on March 1st. At the time, Nellie weighed only 55 lbs and was severely underweight, noted the Foundation’s executive director Rob Digiovanni.

As a fully grown adult, she end up weighing about 255 lbs,” he said.

After being rescued from the New York City beach, veterinarians gave the seal a full physical, checking for lesions and running blood tests before prescribing antibiotics and feeding her fluids through a tube until she was able to digest solid food.

“She belongs back in the wild,” added Digiovanni, who was on hand to see her make her way back to freedom, along with approximately 200 local well-wishers.

Found in waters from the Arctic to the North Altantic, harp seals prefer to swim in the ocean, spending little time on land. However, when they do they often tend to congregate in large colonies. Although they are often hunted mercilessly, harp seals have been known to live to be 30 years old in the wild.