The Story of "Corona"- the Staten Island Seal

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Michele Pagel-Education and Volunteer Coordinator

August 27, 2020

On Easter Sunday 2020, an adult male harp seal was discovered on a jet-ski ramp in Staten Island.  He was very underweight and seemed to be suffering from eye issues.  The seal was nicknamed Corona by the local residents.  The MMSC was contacted about the seal’s plight, and on April 14th, along with the assistance of New York Marine Rescue Center and NY Department of Environmental Control (DEC), MMSC staff was able to capture the seal and bring him back to the center.

Weighing only 185.2 lbs. at intake, Corona was very weak and malnourished, and was afflicted with serious eye issues.  With supportive care, his physical condition improved and he began to gain weight. After several medical evaluations made by our veterinarian and eye surgeon Dr. Dunn, it was determined that he was blind.  Due to the nature of his eye issues, he was at risk for serious water pressure-induced injuries that could lead to a life-threatening infection should he attempt to dive at the depths that harp seals normally hunt for their food (1,300 feet).  Unable to be returned to the wild, his fate was initially uncertain.  After a nation-wide search by MMSC staff and NOAA Fisheries, permanent placement for Corona was found at a public aquarium.  This facility was selected as it would be able to meet his specialized veterinary needs, providing an expansive habitat that mimics the conditions of his Arctic environment and the companionship of other seals of the same species.

While we always prefer to see our seals released back into the wild, our priority is always doing what is best for the individual animals.  As guests visit our beloved harp seal in his new home, we hope that he continues to serve as an ambassador for his wild counterparts, by making a connection to inspire people to care about seals in the wild and protect their Arctic home.

If not for our dedicated staff, faithful volunteers and amazing supporters like YOU, his story could have had a much different ending.  Thank you for caring about Corona, and loving him as much as we do!