Harbor porpoise named Sandy to be released back into wild

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Sandy the harbor porpoise is transported to be released by the New England Aquarium

Sandy the harbor porpoise is checked before released by the New England Aquarium

Sandy the harbor porpoise is almost ready to be released by the New England Aquarium

Sandy the harbor porpoise fed before her release by the New England Aquarium

Boston, MA - July 18, 2007
A harbor porpoise named Sandy, which was rescued earlier this spring and rehabilitated by the New England Aquarium's Marine Animal Rescue Team, will be released back into the wild from the Aquarium's whale watch vessel at sea Wednesday evening. The porpoise was rescued by the Cape Cod Stranding Network in Barnstable on March 5th from Sandy Neck Beach. Sandy was suffering from pneumonia, malnutrition and a heavy parasite load. The release site will be at Jeffrey's Ledge, northeast of Gloucester as its colder water is better for harbor porpoises at this time of year.

Harbor porpoises are smaller than their dolphin cousins. Sandy, is currently four feet long and when full grown will reach between five and six feet. When found she weighed 46 pounds and now tips the scales at 65 pounds. Unlike many dolphin species, harbor porpoises do not have prominent beaks but rather have rounded foreheads. They are normally grey in color and are just downright cute and very engaging.

During the late winter months, harbor porpoises can be found even in Boston Harbor chasing small spawning fish. As the water warms, most harbor porpoises migrate to the northern reaches of the Gulf of Maine. Harbor porpoises feed on schooling fish and invertebrates like herring, mackerel and squid. They can travel alone or in small groups of 2-10.

Harbor porpoises are relatively short-lived with most animals not reaching their teens. Their populations are stable although many harbor porpoises do get caught in gill nets.

3:45 p.m. Batelle Corp., Washington St., Duxbury - harbor porpoise to be taken from holding pool. Interviews available here at 4 p.m.

5:45 p.m. Harbor Express Dock at 703 Washington St. in Quincy - Harbor porpoise will arrive in animal ambulance with a state police escort.

6:15 p.m. - Porpoise and staff depart on Aquarium's whale watch vessel. Media welcome but will not return to Quincy until about 10 p.m.