Zeehond eet forellenkwekerij leeg

Sandwich, Cape Cod, 6 januari 2009 – een gewone zeehond reisde 2 mijl van Cape Cod Baai naar de Sandwich staatsviskwekerij.

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SANDWICH — Like a chocoholic with keys to a Godiva shop, a young harbor seal found herself in sea mammal heaven yesterday — the Sandwich Hatchery.

And before she was captured and released on a salt water beach, the little seal managed to munch on untold numbers of four-pound trout.
No one is quite sure exactly how the seal ended up at the state fish hatchery.

She had to travel about two miles from the area of the Sandwich Boardwalk on Cape Cod Bay, follow a creek that passes under a mini-golf course and Route 6A and runs through a wooded area skirting the fish hatchery, before somehow making her way to the hatchery lagoons.

With several fish-filled lagoons to choose from, the little seal ended up in the one with the largest trout, most weighing four pounds or so.

“It’s either a very smart little seal or a very lucky little seal,” said Katie Touhey, a spokeswoman for the Cape Cod Stranding Network, a program of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “It looks healthy enough, pretty full in fact,” said Touhey, peering into the lagoon where the seal swam back and forth, alternately barking at curious onlookers who ventured too close.

Hatchery dining

The seal was discovered around 7 a.m. yesterday as Division of Fisheries and Wildlife employees made their regular morning rounds at the historic hatchery. Wildlife technician John Garofoli was first to spot the seal and did a double-take. Hatchery manager Craig Lodowsky said it was the first time any of them ever saw a seal dining in the hatchery.

Although seals live and breed in saltwater, they can spend short periods of time in fresh water. “It wouldn’t want to live there, but obviously is doing fine right now,” said Touhey, as the little seal surfaced with a foot-long trout clenched between her teeth.

Stranding experts estimate the seal was born sometime around May and weighs about 40 pounds. After getting a closer look, they determined the seal is female and measures 91 centimeters — just under three feet — in length from snout to flippers.

Stan Kuzia of Sagamore, a frequent visitor to the fish hatchery, happened by yesterday and watched from a distance. Like his friend Phil Wrye of Sandwich, also a frequent visitor, Kuzia knew enough to stay out of biting range of the little seal.

“They aren’t pets by any means,” he said. “I once caught one on a line when I was fishing at Sandwich Creek. Took me a while to get it off there,” he said. Wrye agreed. “They look cute, but you don’t want to get your hands anywhere near them,” he said.

One look at the rescuers confirmed this impression. Hatchery employees and stranding experts donned heavy gloves and boots before attempting to get the seal out of the lagoon and into a catch for transport.

Hatchey fish culturist Adam Davies hopped into the lagoon, gripping a large screen which he used to herd the seal toward the end of the lagoon. Lodowsky, standing outside the lagoon, deftly scooped up the critter in a net and hoisted her out of the water and onto the ground where Misty Niemeyer, Sarah Sharp and Gail A’Brunzo quickly lowered themselves onto the seal. They covered it with towels, then pulled them back giving the seal a quick look-over before sending her into a large animal carrier. The seal had some scrapes on its chin and stomach. Sharp said the wounds looked fresh and not very serious.

Tagged and released

Niemeyer, Sharp and A’Brunzo, members of the stranding network, loaded the carrier into a van and began the 20-mile drive to West Dennis Beach where the seal was eventually released.

This beach along Nantucket Sound was chosen because rescuers do not want the seal to return to the fish hatchery, on the north side of the Cape. Before the seal’s release, the trio of humans measured, tagged and daubed fluorescent green dye on the seal’s snout and torso — all aimed at identifying her should she find her way back to the hatchery.

The little seal barked and snarled as the humans worked quickly and quietly, hoping to minimize strain on the seal. Once freed from human contact, the little seal made her way quickly across the sand, stopping three times to look at the nearby humans before gliding into the water.

“I think she’ll do fine, just fine,” Sharp said. “After that little adventure in Sandwich, she probably won’t have to eat for a few days.”

bron: Cape Cod Times