Shortly after the head of Marine Mammals of Maine arrived at the Wells boat launch Sunday morning, the confused harp seal she had traveled all the way from Phippsburg to rescue rolled off the snowbank it apparently had become stuck in and waddled into the ocean.

“We were going to relocate the animal,” said Lynda Doughty, executive director of Marine Mammals of Maine. “But it ended up going into the water on its own.”

Doughty said it’s not uncommon for harp seals to come ashore in Maine during the winter.

For the past decade or so the earless seals have been migrating in December from Newfoundland and the Canadian Maritimes to the Gulf of Maine.

Doughty said the animals are being driven out of their habitat for a number of reasons that may include predators, a shortage of food and a lack of ice.

“They love ice and they love snow,” Doughty said. “They will eat the snow and use it for hydration.”

That may have been the reason the harp seal in Wells got stranded on a snowbank near the Wells boat launch.

Doughty described the seal that came to shore in Wells on Sunday morning as a male juvenile between 1 and 2 years old.

“It looked to be in good condition,” Doughty said.

Last week, Marine Mammals of Maine responded to Wells for the report of a seal in the middle of Webhannet Road. Doughty said that seal was also a harp seal. She said it was not the same seal as the one that landed in a snowbank Sunday.

“These guys hit land and just keep going,” she said. “We’ve found them in people’s backyards.”

The seal from last week was relocated to a beach in Wells.

Harp seals have a silvery-gray body and their eyes are black. They feed primarily on fish and crustaceans.

Marine Mammals of Maine is a nonprofit charitable organization.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.