Harp Seal


Satellite Tagging

Harp Seal


"Jaws", named for her tendency to charge and bite, stranded on February 22,_ 2007 at First Landing State Park.

This female harp seal (a yearling) appeared slightly thin, lethargic and was swallowing sand. The Virginia Aquarium Stranding Team (VAQS) recovered and transported the animal to their stranding center for radiographs and a thorough examination. With treatments including antibiotic therapy, fluid and nutritional support, the animal passed all of the sand and has gained over 20 pounds, weighing nearly 90 pounds.

She was released on March 30, 2007 from First Landing State Park. A_ satellite transmitter was attached to the seal in a cooperative effort with Rob DiGiovanni of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation in Riverhead, New York. This is the first harp seal to be released from Virginia. Many thanks to VAQS volunteers, First Landing State Park and Riverhead Foundation for making her release possible. Good Luck Jaws!!


Thanks, in part, to the efforts of a 13 year old girl, this harp seal ("Chewbacca") was able to be released with a transmitter from Virginia. This satellite tracking is another cooperative endeavor between the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program and the Riverhead Foundation.

For her 13th birthday party, Jessica Gabris asked her guests to bring donations for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program (VAQS) instead of gifts. She collected over 2,500 dollars. Donations like this help with efforts such as the purchase of “Chewbacca's” satellite transmitter and tracking time.

Chewbacca stranded on April 20, 2007 in Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The animal had appeared slightly thin (35 pounds) with some superficial injuries. Animals in nature often sustain injuries. Many times these injuries heal with no intervention. As we prefer not to interfere with wildlife unless required, the animal was under observation by park ranger, Eva Savage. Unfortunately, due to public harassment, the decision was made to capture the animal for his and the people's safety. The animal was transferred to the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Center for further assessment and rehabilitation.

Named Chewbacca for his rather mouthy vocalizations, he was treated and responded quickly to antibiotics (for superficial lesions and concern regarding pneumonia), fluids and nutritional support. He quickly began eating, preferring herring and consuming nearly 10 pounds each day.

At a hefty 66 pounds, Chewbacca was released on May 19, 2007 from First Landing State Park. At the release site, Jessica and many of her party guests were in attendance to witness the impact of their effort. Jessica further assisted this seal on his journey by opening the kennel door, allowing Chewbacca to hustle down the beach and back to the ocean.

Generosity such as the >$2500 donated from Jessica Gabris' "Alternative Green" birthday party idea enable us to continue this important work while empowering the next generation with the realization that one individual at any age CAN make a difference.


Virginia Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue

Map of "Jaws's" travels.

Map of "Chewbacca's" travels.

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

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