The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation released their first seal of spring 2016 on Sunday, April 3 at Ponquogue Beach. Around 150 people gathered to see the male harbor seal, Apollo, take his first “steps” back out into nature.
Apollo was rescued on December 23 last year in Montauk after he was discovered underweight and experiencing respiratory congestion. The Riverhead Foundation nursed him back to health. The seal was fully rehabilitated and cared for until he was ready to return home to the wild. Apollo was one of 14 seals in rehabilitation. Sea animals found sick, injured, harassed or entangled in marine debris maybe be admitted to the Riverhead Foundation’s hospital facility.
These sea animals are all federally protected. By law, people must maintain a minimum distance of 150 feet at all times, because interfering with these animals may cause more unnecessary stress, and can be harmful to an already compromised animal.
Founded in 1996, the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation is the only organization in New York State that works with sea turtles and marine mammals such as seals, dolphins, porpoises and whales. Last year, the foundation helped 77 seals, 72 sea turtles and 24 cetaceans (dolphins, whales and porpoises). To report any stranded sea animals you see, call the Riverhead Foundation’s 24-hour hotline at 631-369-9840. For more information on the Riverhead Foundation and how you can get involved, visit riverheadfoundation.org.