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Harp seal stops by marshes near Marina Bay in Quincy

Posted by Metro Desk  March 8, 2011 04:02 PM

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Jessica Bartlett for The Boston Globe


The seal basked in the sun with Boston Harbor in the background.

A harp seal has taken up residence in marshes near Marina Bay in Quincy, and New England Aquarium biologist said today the animal is one of an unusually large number of harp seals traveling through Boston Harbor this year.

Adam Kennedy, a biologist for the rescue team from the New England Aquarium, said the harp seal discovered in Quincy is likely migrating toward Canadian waters. He said the Quincy harp seal will be left alone and is likely to hang around for the next several days as it replenishes itself.

Kennedy said harp seals typically weigh between 200 to 250 pounds and are white with a brownish black stripe on their face and back. The stripe resembles a harp, which is how the breed got its name, he said.

Aquarium officials decided not to move the seal, and instructed onlookers to stay a safe distance away. The seal is merely resting, Kennedy said, and could stay in the marsh up to three or four days.

“We don’t move an animal (because) it can be stressful,” he said. “We have had animals die in the past.”

Quincy police said they received about a dozen calls today about the adult harp seal. Police went to the scene at 11 a.m., and rescue workers from the New England Aquarium and the Environmental Police were also on scene to assess the seal’s health.

Dougan said the seal is “fine” and that it has attracted many onlookers.

“It’s more of a curiosity factor,'' Dougan said.

Originally published on the blog MetroDesk.

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