Cape Elizabeth parks foreman Scott Smart was the first to spot the seal Monday and his call led to its lengthy, but successful, rescue. Drew Johnson / The Forecaster

A land-wandering seal pup that made headlines this week is safe now at a marine mammal rehab facility, and it has Cape Elizabeth’s park foreman Scott Smart to thank for that.

Smart was the first person to spot the gallivanting gray seal and get the rescue rolling.

The seal pup on one of its excursions in Cape Elizabeth Monday. Contributed / Cape Elizabeth Police Department

He was out plowing the sidewalks of Oakhurst Road during the storm about 1 a.m. Monday morning. Through the snow, he saw what he thought was an injured animal in the street.

“I came closer, and it was a baby seal,” Smart told The Forecaster Wednesday.

He moved his sidewalk machine over in case the seal tried to get in the way – which it did.

“It kept coming toward me,” Smart said. “So, then I moved over a bit and it basically just kept following me. I don’t know what the attraction was, if it was the lights or something.”


Concerned that the seal might get hit by a car or otherwise come to harm, Smart called his supervisor who then called the police. Meanwhile, the seal made its way into a snowbank.

“The poor thing was so tired,” Smart said. “I waited until Sgt. Gaudette showed up and handled the situation.”

Sgt. Jeffrey Gaudette did handle the situation – the first time. He and Sgt. Rory Benjamin captured it, took it to Fort Williams Beach and set it free. But the seal made its way back to the streets two more times Monday, and was recaptured and released. On its fourth foray onto land, it was caught and safely put in the care of Marine Mammals of Maine in Brunswick, which treats and rehabilitates stranded seals.

Marine Mammals of Maine reported on Facebook Wednesday that the seal is doing well, “is much brighter and a lot less exhausted,” and has befriended another gray seal pup at the facility.

The seal weighs about 35 pounds and an adult seal can weigh between 800 and 1,000 pounds, according to Lynda Doughty, executive director of Marine Mammals of Maine. Gray seals are born between December and February and the mothers leave their pups after just three weeks of lactation. Some, like this wandering seal, have trouble adjusting during this weaning period.

“They’re in the ocean on their own for the first time and trying to learn how to eat on their own,” Doughty told the Press Herald. “It’s not surprising to find these young animals that come up on the roadways or parking lots.”

The seal will remain at Marine Mammals of Maine rehabilitation facility in Brunswick for a while to ensure its nutritional needs are met.

In his eight years with the town’s Public Works Department, his encounter with the seal was one of a kind, Smart said.

“I’ve seen some stuff,” he said, “but nothing like that.”

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