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Mystic Aquarium releases ‘Shoebert’ the popular Massachusetts gray seal to the ocean



Photo courtesy of Beverly Police

Charlestown, RI/Beverly, MA – A sub adult gray seal, affectionately named ‘Shoebert’ after the Beverly, Massachusetts pond where he captivated crowds of onlookers, has returned to the ocean after observation and tests at Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Clinic. The wayward 4-and-a-half-year-old Shoebert weighed 235 pounds upon arrival at Mystic Aquarium, a healthy weight for a gray seal his age. During his brief stay, Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Care team conducted blood tests, x-rays, and a full veterinary checkup before receiving a clean bill of health. Mystic Aquarium released Shoebert back into the ocean on Block Island, RI in a remote location near other seals.

Four years before he captured the public’s imagination by living in Shoe Pond and then wandering over to the Beverly Police Department, Shoebert was rescued on Cape Cod. In 2018, the International Fund for Animal Welfare found him as a small pup and transported him to Mystic Aquarium for rehabilitation under their world-class care to treat a severe facial wound and an infection in his hind flipper. Prior to his release yesterday, Shoebert was fitted with a satellite tracker that will help researchers learn more about seal ranges and habits. The aquarium responds to more than 150 calls about seals in our coverage area each year and admit an average of 20 for rehabilitation and medical care.

“Shobert’s contributions expand far beyond the smiles he has brought everyone throughout his journey,” said Sarah Callan, Mystic Aquarium Animal Rescue Program Manager. “Obtaining data on Shoebert’s health and movements since his initial admit for rehabilitation in 2018 is a unique opportunity that is important in a world where ocean dynamics are changing at an alarming rate. Shobert’s contributions to science and research will help us understand more about the gray seal species as a whole and the role they play in the ecosystem.”

The goal of Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program is to rescue marine mammals in need of help and rehabilitate them to be released back into the wild. Callan says based on unique markings and his previous visit; her team knew it was Shoebert right away. Mystic Aquarium was delighted to see the gray seal in such good health and proud to be part of a team effort to ensure Shoebert’s safety.

“The journey to get Shoebert back to his ocean home required a village,” said Callan. “Responders from multiple stranding organizations, NOAA, and Beverly Police and Fire Department personnel came together to ensure the safety and well-being of both Shoebert and the local community during rescue efforts. Here at Mystic Aquarium, we feel honored to have been the last stop on his journey where he received a full health assessment and checkup before heading home.”

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