PORTLAND – An adult harp seal that was spotted sunning itself Saturday in Back Cove marshland apparently has swum away, an official from the state’s Department of Marine Resources said Monday.

The grayish and black seal drew dozens of spectators and caused drivers to pull over along Baxter Boulevard. The seal may have been a rare sight for some, but the mammals are common in the area this time of year, said Lynda Doughty, strandings coordinator for the department.

The seals migrate from Canada through Maine waters from November to April. Doughty said more than a dozen sightings have been reported recently from Eliot to Boothbay. One seal required rehabilitation, she said.

”This is the most harp seals we have ever seen,” Doughty said. ”I’m not sure why.”

Doughty said she got a call Saturday about the Back Cove seal and sent a volunteer to identify the species.

She said the seal appeared active and had good body weight.

”They will haul out of the water sometimes for days at a time to conserve energy and to regulate their body temperature,” Doughty said. ”The only time they need to be in water is to feed.”

On Monday, another adult harp seal was spotted on Hills Beach in Biddeford, and juvenile harp seals were seen in Ogunquit, Cumberland, South Bristol and Kittery Point.

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: [email protected]