After a long journey inland, a curious marine mammal has returned home with good reason to chip the seals.
Authorities responded to reports of a large seal in Shubie Park around 7 a.m. on Saturday.
Halifax Police said a citizen found the seal, which they called “it”, in the parking lot of the park’s off-leash dog area.
Officers blocked sections around the seal to ensure park users and their dogs do not get too close to the 272-kilogram animal, a statement said.
When the report first arrived, police believed there must be some mistake and the seal was in fact at Point Pleasant Park, since Halifax Park is actually on the ocean.
“How he… found his way from the ocean – I think it’s going to be a bit of a mystery,” said Staff Sgt. Mo Chediac of the Halifax Regional Police.
Department of Fisheries and Oceans staff, paramedics, Hope for Wildlife and the Marine Animal Response Society have joined in efforts to remove the seal.
Eventually, yellow police tape surrounded the seal area. Throughout the day, authorities prevented the seal from moving away or entering nearby water.
Chediac said it was “certainly rare” for Halifax police to receive calls from seals so far inland, but it was important to stay on the scene all day to ensure that all humans and animals stay safe.
“It drew quite a large crowd throughout the day. A lot of people were there to see [it], which is quite rare. I mean, how often do you see a 600 pound seal in a parking lot? “He said.
Due to the size of the seal, Chediac said it took most of the day for experts to figure out how to safely remove it from the park. Fortunately, Chediac said the seal seemed “quite docile and cold” most of the time.
A veterinarian also joined the team, and at around 2:30 p.m., the seal was tranquilized so that it could be moved safely.
The seal was loaded onto a stretcher and a large group of officials placed the animal in the back of a Marine Response Company 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 because they have the licenses and expertise to move marine animals.
But she wasn’t necessarily surprised to learn that a seal was found in Shubie.
“Seals travel inland, sometimes across land, long distances, and I guess it can [have] descend through the locks, ”Swinimer said on Saturday of a possible route through the Shubenacadie Canal. “I knew he would have a hard time coming back.
She said seals often follow fish from the ocean to freshwater lakes and rivers and can get “in trouble”.
Swinimer said he heard of seals popping up in Porters Lake, while social media noted that a seal was seen in the Shubenacadie River last year. Earlier this week, one of them was spotted on a dock at Fletcher Lake in Fall River.
“They can usually find a way out. But I think in this particular case it would have been incredibly difficult for him to come out,” Swinimer said.
It is not known which route the seal took to end up in the park.