PHIPPSBURG, Maine — Volunteers from Marine Mammals of Maine released their last rehabilitated seal of of the year in Phippsburg on Monday — just in time for Christmas.
About a hundred festive well-wishers cheered as the harbor seal wriggled down the sand, back to her home in the sea for the holidays. The small pinniped was named “Premie” by her Harpswell-based rehabilitators. Found in Surry nearly eight months ago, she weighed just a few pounds and was no more than 24 hours old.
After months of round-the-clock, determined care, Premie was finally cleared for release this week. Marine Mammals of Maine is the only sea mammal rehabilitation facility in the state.
It’s been a tough year for seals. The organization usually responds to 300 seal and mammal strandings a year. In 2018, with an outbreak of seal distemper, that number shot up to more than a thousand.
Premie swam out to sea with one final gift from her caregivers: a distemper vaccination, the first of its kind in the state.