Marine Mammals of Maine's Rehabilitation Center
In 2017, one year after receiving federal authorization to temporarily triage seals, Marine Mammals of Maine (MMoME) received additional permitting to provide long-term rehabilitative care for seals, bringing rehab back to Maine! When University of New England's marine mammal rehabilitation program closed its doors in 2014, the MMoME team went straight to work to fill this gap in essential coverage, accomplishing this feat in three years.
Fast forward to 2022 and MMoME has continued to increase our permitting and are currently the largest harbor seal pup rehabilitation facility in the northeast. While initial permitting allowed MMoME to care for two seals long-term, MMoME has since obtained the required federal permitting to rehab up to 15 harbor seal pups at once. Each year the need continues to be greater than rehabilitation facility and se are always working to increase our capacity to help.
If we determine that an animal is maternally abandoned or otherwise likely to not survive in the wild without intervention, MMoME will step in to give this individual a fighting chance in a rehabilitation setting. For young dependent pups, it is simply impossible to artificially recreate the ideal nutritional requirements that a mother seal is able to provide, and so rehabilitation is always the last option.
What's the difference between triage and rehab?
Our triage patients are seals that will be transferred to other centers but are not immediately stable enough for the long transports, requiring temporary critical care first. Our rehabilitation patients are seals that will undergo their entire recovery at our center until they can be released.
How long does the rehabilitation process take for a seal?
The answer to this question depends on the age of the seal upon admit, the species, and any overt or underlying medical conditions requiring attention, such as malnourishment or infection.
Harbor seal pups require a minimum of three months of intensive rehabilitative care, though it is not uncommon for these young seals to require a bit more time. Dependent pups must be weaned off pup formula once old enough and then learn to eat fish on their own. Once a pup is weaned, they need to gain a substantial amount of weight before they are fit for release. A prematurely-born harbor seal rehabilitated by MMoME in 2018 remained in our care for seven months. "Premie" reached her developmental benchmarks at a slower pace than her full-term counterparts and had more ground to cover before being deemed release-ready. A juvenile of any species, however, is typically less of a time commitment and may only require one or two months of care in our facility, depending on their reason for being admitted to rehab.
Our staff works closely with our veterinarian, who has over 20 years of experience working with marine mammals, in determining the most appropriate treatment options for the seals in our care.
How much does it cost to rehabilitate a seal?
Get ready for this figure... It costs approximately $6-8,000 to rehabilitate one seal. Talk about costly!
Visiting MMoME's Center
Unfortunately, MMoME is currently not able to host any visitors. In order to operate this marine mammal triage and rehab center, MMoME must observe the regulations outlined in our federal permit. One of the permit regulations prohibits public viewing. It is also difficult to bring individuals into the hospital setting as our patients are all recovering from illnesses and/or injuries. These wild animals are impacted by human presence, and staff and volunteers working with them strive to limit interactions as much as possible. We are working on ways to bring the public in to our center to show the incredible work taking place, stay tuned for updates!
Check out our Youtube channel to see videos of our patients! Sign up for our email list to receive updates throughout the year.