BIDDEFORD

Abandoned baby seal a first for UNE animal rehab center

A harp seal pup that was rescued off the Maine coast is being rehabilitated at the University of New England Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center.

The pup was born in a cove in Spruce Head. It was rescued by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Feb. 23.

Normally, harp seals give birth on ice floes off the Canadian coast. Marine scientists are trying to determine whether the birth in Maine was a sign of global climate change or a natural expansion of harp seals into Maine.

Harp seals have been increasingly common on Maine shores in recent winters.

The pup was rescued 14 hours after it was born. The mother swam away and did not return.

It is the first baby harp seal to be rescued by Maine marine officials and the first to be rehabilitated at UNE.