“Shoebert,” the famous seal who spent a week in Beverly’s Shoe Pond and later waddled to the police station in the middle of the night, was released into the ocean off Rhode Island Tuesday after a brief stay at a Connecticut aquarium, according to a statement from NOAA.
The unpredictable gray seal stayed in a pool at the Animal Rescue Clinic at the Mystic Aquarium from last Friday, when he was captured outside in Beverly, until Tuesday, when he was released off Block Island, R.I., according to Sarah Callan, the assistant manager of animal rescue at Mystic Aquarium.
“He beelined it into the water faster than ever. It seemed like he was definitely ready to go,” Callan said in a phone interview Wednesday.
On Monday, aquarium staff affixed a satellite tag to Shoebert’s back in order to keep track of his whereabouts as he swims around the Atlantic, Callan said. The very next day, the release team brought him on the 9 a.m. Block Island ferry before heading to a remote area near the North Light.
“It was funny because when we released him, there was a female gray seal that popped up right next to him,” Callan said. “So, we were like, ‘Oh good, hopefully he gets taken away by the ladies on the island.’”
Researchers at the aquarium felt it was important to tag Shoebert to monitor his movements, especially since they currently don’t have a lot of knowledge about the gray seal population in New England, Callan said. They took a few vials of blood as well as a fecal sample to determine the species of fish he’s been eating.
“We’re going to be able to learn a lot from Shoebert and this case and he’ll help other seals,” Callan said. “So, he’s really a hero.”
Although it takes a couple of days for the satellite tag to begin pinging accurate locations, Shoebert seemed to still be in the Block Island area, Callan said.
“He has not headed back to Beverly yet,” she said.