An Arctic seal found in Florida far from its natural habitat near the North Pole has been taken to SeaWorld for treatment.
The bearded seal is thin and dehydrated, responding when touched by staff members but otherwise resting quietly, Dr. Christopher Dold, a staff veterinarian at SeaWorld, said late Monday.
Rescuers used two nets to remove the 6-foot-long, 250-pound seal from a canal in a residential area Monday. Veterinary staff at SeaWorld will attempt to rehabilitate the animal so it can be returned to the North Pole.
Scientists do not know what has caused the seal to travel so far south. Blair Mase-Guthrie, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s stranding coordinator, said the seal might have been caught up in an unusual current or following elusive prey.
Bearded seals often travel alone and over long distances, Mase-Guthrie said. They are also used to salt water, not a mix of salt and fresh water.
The seal was first spotted Thursday south of Stuart and was said to appear sickly. It was seen swimming south and officials had hoped to capture it Saturday, but it eluded rescue teams.