"Sammy Alfredo"
Harp Seal


Satellite Tagging

Harp Seal

"Sammy Alfredo"

Where in the World is "Sammy Alfredo"

The Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team will release "Sammy Alfredo", a female yearling harp seal, from First Landing State Park, at 1:00pm on Thursday May 8, 2008. Thanks to the award winning educational web site http://whale.wheelock.edu, Sammy will be outfitted with a satellite transmitter and become an important ambassador for marine animals and their environment. Students will be following Sammy's journey on the website giving them an opportunity to increase their awareness of the marine environment and important conservation issues and all the while be learning about geometry, geography, etc. etc.

"Sammy" stranded March 26, 2008 on a beach in Croatan, VA. It is not uncommon for seals to haul out and rest on the beach and this seal initially appeared bright and alert with no obvious injuries. Unfortunately, the animal later became more lethargic and was brought to the stranding center for further evaluation.

Examination revealed a fairly thin animal with line impression marks around the mouth and flipper consistent with an entanglement. She responded quickly and well to treatments of fluids, antibiotics and herring slurries. Sammy now consumes over 10 pounds of fish daily, has gained over 15 pounds and fishicles remain the favorite of her environmental enrichments.

Virginia Harp Seal Stranding History

Except for one reported incident involving an adult harp seal being captured in March of 1945 there is no documentation of harp seal strandings or sightings prior to 1996 in the state of Virginia. In 1996 VAQS responded to four harp seal strandings. Since that time we average two harp seal strandings per year with a low of zero (1998, 1999, 2002 and 2003) and a high of seven in 2007.

Harp seal strandings in Virginia:
- generally occur from February through April
- are usually juveniles
- consist of mostly live (67%) strandings

In 2007 VAQS rehabilitated two harp seals which had stranded in Virginia (Jaws and Chewbacca). NOAA permitted VAQS to release both animals from Virginia, an area well south of their normal distribution range, with the stipulation that they each be outfitted with satellite tags. Both animals were tracked on Whalenet and moved northward to an area of known harp seal presence off of Newfoundland. Thanks to post release monitoring capabilities and the animals apparent successful reintroduction into the wild, NOAA has again granted permission to allow a third harp seal ("Sammy") to be released from our state.


Virginia Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue

Map of "Sammy Alfredo's" travels.

More seal data is available in the current WhaleNet Listserv. Sort and go to FIND for "64664" entries beginning May 8, 2008.

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