Stephanie upon release

Stephanie, as she was nicknamed by the young girl who first reported her to us, was a hooded seal (Cystophora cristata) rescued from a Nahant, MA beach on February 20, 1996.

Upon arrival at the Aquarium, she was found to be extremely underweight (by 150 pounds!), dehydrated and suffering from a severe lung worm infection. She was aggressively treated with steroids, antibiotics and de-worming drugs for a total of 8 months. Eventually her appetite returned, she gained weight, and her lungs were cleared of worms. After a total of eight months in Aquarium care, she was ready for return to the sea.

Any questions about her ability to return "home" were quickly dispelled soon after her return to sea. Just prior to her release she was fitted with a satellite tracking tag, glued painlessly to her fur. This was the first time we ever applied a satellite-tracking device on any of the hundreds of seals we have rescued and released. With this device, Stephanie sent daily messages to a satellite, which forwarded the information through a central computer back to the Aquarium. The tag, provided by WhaleNet’s Satellite Tagging Observation Program, told us where she was, when she was diving, and the depth and duration of her dives. We found that she made a virtual bee-line back home, averaging 50 miles per day, traveling some two thousand miles to cross the Arctic Circle within 6 weeks of her release. This information provided us with exciting discoveries about how, when, and where hooded seals swim, dive and feed.