Ailing Seal Pup Rescued by MERR at Cape Henlopen State Park


Cupid – seal pup resuced by MERR / image courtesy of MERR

The Marine Education Research and Rehabilitation (MERR) Institute responded to a very young gray seal pup on Friday, Feb. 12, near the great dune at Cape Henlopen State Park. The pup, who is only about 3 weeks old and still very small, was huddled up against the dune when she was spotted by a beach walker who reported her to MERR. She had some small wounds near her head, possibly from a bite from another seal. A pup this young is still dependent on its mother for food, so the decision was made to rescue her since she could not survive on her own.

“It’s a good thing that she was reported to MERR when she was, because it is unlikely that she
would have survived the night on her own,” said Suzanne Thurman, MERR’s executive director.
“The high tides we have been experiencing caused the waves to come all the way up to the
dune, and she would have been washed out to sea. She would have been too little and weak to
survive in the stormy ocean, and would likely have drowned.”

Since she was rescued on Valentine’s Day weekend, she was nicknamed Cupid.

Based on her young age, it is likely that Cupid was born in Delaware. She still had a good
portion of her white baby fur (Lanugo) covering her body. She received hydration and nutritional
therapy and other veterinary treatments at MERR, as well as ongoing health assessments. She
was a little weak when she first came in but got stronger each day with the care she received.
She will spend the remainder of her recovery at a long-term rehabilitation facility, where she will
likely be renamed and will continue to receive nutritional support until she is able to learn to eat
on her own. We are hopeful that the seal will make a full recovery and be returned to her ocean
home soon.

From now until late April, beachgoers can expect to see seals on Delaware beaches, marshes,
and on structures such as docks and other areas where they can rest. Please do not approach
or feed a seal. Maintain a distance of at least 150′ and keep dogs on a leash. This will keep the
seal safe, and allow it to stay calm and rest. Please call MERR so that we can send a trained
responder to the scene to assess the seal’s condition at (302)228-5029.