WATCH: Injured harbor seal rehabbed, released on Cape Cod


A juvenile harbor seal, likely a few months old, was rescued off the Scusset Beach jetty rocks near the Cape Cod Canal in July, coincidently the same afternoon another rescued seal was being released at the same beach!

He was lethargic, thin, had labored breathing and several wounds to his mouth. Our volunteer and colleague Margot Madden of the National Marine Life Center (NMLC) geared up in safety equipment and descended by rope down the rocks to capture the seal.

He was transported just a short distance to NMLC, located in Buzzards Bay. I assisted her in examining, assessing and treating him that first evening, we named him Sea Salt that evening, due to his very light coloring. It was a perfect fit. 

His breathing concerned us. He was very bloody from his severely infected face wound and one of his flippers was swollen.  After x-rays and further exams by NMLC’s veterinarian Dr. Rogers Williams, it was determine that his left jaw was broken and several teeth were missing.

Due to the severity of his injuries, we were all concerned he was not going to survive, fearing a possible infection in the broken jaw bone, prohibiting him from eating. 

But after much treatment and care from staff and volunteers at NMLC, Sea Salt slowly started to improve.

First he showed us he could swim and appeared to really enjoy it.

Then came the true test: Can he eat? 

Eventually, he figured out how to eat on the opposite side of his mouth and no longer required pain medication.

To everyone’s amazement, Sea Salt was approved for release! 

He was released back at Scussett beach, the very beach he was rescued on, a few months later with two other harbor seals named Basil and Juniper, who had also been cared for by the NMLC team.

“He was special. Sea Salt proved a lot of people wrong, really showing how resilient these animals are,” explained Margot.

Thank you, NMLC for taking such great care of Sea Salt. We wish him well in the big open ocean.


If you see a seal on the beach, please stay back the required 150 feet and keep dogs away. If you think the animal may need assistance or medical attention, call our stranding hotline on Cape Cod:  508-743-9548

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Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
IFAW Veterinarian
Katie Moore, Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Loïs Lelanchon, Animal Rescue Program Officer
Animal Rescue Program Officer
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy