Lending a flipper: Large seal removed from Dartmouth's Shubie Park

·3 min read
A large seal was found in Dartmouth's Shubie Park on Saturday morning. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC - image credit)
A large seal was found in Dartmouth's Shubie Park on Saturday morning. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC - image credit)

After a long journey inland, one curious marine mammal is back home with a reason to seal-ebrate.

Officials responded to reports of a large seal at Shubie Park around 7 a.m. Saturday.

Halifax police said a citizen found the seal, which they referred to as "he," in the parking lot of the park's off-leash dog area.

Officers blocked off sections around the seal to make sure park users and their dogs didn't get too close to the 272-kilogram animal, according to a release.

Jeorge Sadi/CBC
Jeorge Sadi/CBC

When the report first came in, police thought there must have been a mistake and the seal was actually at Point Pleasant Park, since the Halifax park is actually on the ocean.

"How it ... found its way through there from the ocean — I think that's going to be a mystery for a little bit," said Staff Sgt. Mo Chediac of the Halifax Regional Police.

Staff of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, paramedics, Hope for Wildlife and the Marine Animal Response Society joined in the effort to remove the seal.

Eventually, yellow police tape surrounded the seal's area. Throughout the day, officials kept the seal from moving away or into any nearby water.

Chediac said it's "definitely uncommon" for Halifax police to get calls of seals being so far inland, but it was important to remain on scene all day to ensure all humans and animals stayed safe.

"It drew quite a significant crowd throughout the day. A lot of people were there to see [it], which is kind of rare. I mean, how often do you see a 600-pound seal in a parking lot?" he said.

Due to the seal's size, Chediac said it took most of the day for the experts to figure out how they could safely remove it from the park. Luckily, Chediac said the seal appeared "pretty docile and chill" most of the time.

A veterinarian also joined the team, and around 2:30 p.m. the seal was tranquillized so it could be moved safely.

Jeorge Sadi/CBC
Jeorge Sadi/CBC

The seal was loaded onto a stretcher, and a large group of officials placed the animal in the back of a marine response society truck.

Halifax police said the seal was safely "reunited with the ocean" and released at Eastern Passage.

Hope Swinimer of Hope for Wildlife said the marine animal group often takes the lead in these situations since it has the licences and expertise to move marine animals.

But she wasn't necessarily surprised to hear about a seal ending up at Shubie.

"Seals travel inland, sometimes over the land, long distances, and I'm assuming he may [have] come down through the locks," Swinimer said Saturday about a possible route through the Shubenacadie Canal. "I knew he'd have a hard time getting back."

Jeorge Sadi/CBC
Jeorge Sadi/CBC

She said seals often follow fish from the ocean into freshwater lakes and rivers and can get themselves "into trouble."

Swinimer said she's heard of seals popping up in Porters Lake, while people on social media noted that a seal was spotted in the Shubenacadie River last year. Earlier this week, one was seen on a dock on Fletchers Lake in Fall River.

"They usually can figure out a way out. But I would think in this particular case, it would have been incredibly difficult for him to get out," Swinimer said.

It is unclear what route the seal took to end up in the park.

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