For any seal who might dare follow in Shoebert’s flippers, we have some good news.
A “seal crossing” street sign was put up in Beverly on Tuesday, right where Shoebert — the seal who spent more than a week in a local pond — crossed the road while waddling to the police station at the end of his stay.
The sign is only the first tribute to Shoebert at the Cummings Center, a mixed-use development where the adventurous seal lounged in Shoe Pond last month to the delight of residents. The Cummings Center will also introduce a mural collage of his journey, a sculpture, and possibly a marked path to commemorate the seal’s trek to the police station?, said Jim Trudeau, chief design officer of the property.
“Shoebert’s arrival at Shoe Pond was a surprise to all of us and we were sort of his landlord for a week or so,” Trudeau said. “We’ve talked about different ways to recognize it. It’s a historic building and we like to tell the stories of the site.”
After taking advantage of a high tide to reach the Beverly pond, Shoebert evaded capture for days before making his way to the police station, seemingly turning himself in.
The 4-year-old gray seal stayed for four days at the Animal Rescue Clinic at Mystic Aquarium and was then released off Block Island, R.I. on Sept. 27 and has since been tracked back on the North Shore of Massachusetts.
“As of the past few days, Shoebert is still swimming around the Massachusetts shoreline but has moved to deeper water south of the North Shore,” Sarah Callan, assistant animal rescue manager at the Mystic Aquarium, said Thursday.
The Cummings Center’s design team decided to put a wildlife crossing sign on the main road into the center, which they custom-made from vinyl, Trudeau said. After sketching it out, ordering the material, and having the design printed, the “seal crossing” sign was born.
“There’s no ‘seal crossing’ sign on the shelf,” Trudeau said with a chuckle.
Toward the front of the main building will soon be a digitally printed mural of photos of Shoebert’s visit, Trudeau said. There will also be a summary of his saga — how he arrived, spent time in the pond, decided it was time to leave, and was taken to the aquarium before being released.
The center is also planning to create a seal statue from steel left over from a previous sculpture project, Trudeau said. The design team has a preliminary sketch of a seal on a rock.
“Local kids could come by and have a picture spot,” Trudeau said. “I don’t know if we’ll get to that ‘Make Way for Ducklings’ level, but that would be great.”
The commemorative touches are well-deserved, as the plucky seal made a major impact in a short time, said Trudeau, a Beverly native.
“We have a lot of medical practices and someone was telling me that one of the pediatricians’ patients, a young child, wanted to stop and see Shoebert on the way in,” Trudeau said. “There was a joke that they’re going to change the [high school] football team from the Panthers to the Seals.”
Bailey Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @baileyaallen.