Seal Hospital, A young seal wandered up a steep embankment and crossed four lanes of traffic to make an unexpected appearance at the entrance of Mercy Hospital on Friday.
Mike Therrian was out shoveling snow when he saw what he thought could have been a person bundled under a blanket at about 4 a.m. To his surprise, it was a 30-inch gray seal.
Hospital security was alerted, police officers dispatched and a marine mammal expert summoned.
But Therrian and a co-worker from Seabreeze Property Service took matters into their own hands, encouraging the seal to move on before the arrival of seal expert Lynda Doughty.
“We were calling it like a dog: ‘C’mon, c’mon.’ Oddly enough, it came to us,” said Kevin Freeman, who took several photographs of the wayward seal.
With some coaxing the seal slid down the hill, crossed the Fore River Parkway and crawled back into the river that empties into Portland Harbor.
Gray seals give birth to their pups from January to March, and the seal was a youngster who’d just left her mother, said Doughty, executive director of Marine Mammals of Maine. The seals sometimes crawl onto land to take a rest or to regulate their body temperature, she said.
Therrian and Freeman said they decided to encourage the seal to get back into the water after they had trouble raising anyone at the early hour. The distance from the hospital to shore was about 150 to 200 yards, and they tossed snow over sidewalks to make a path.
It was high tide and the seal knew what to do. “She got down there on the rocks, she got her nose in the water, and she just took right off,” Freeman said.