Seal’s weeklong Charles River swim ends

 

by L. Finch, Boston Globe

A wayward harbor seal that made its way into the Charles River late last week was released back into the more welcoming waters of Boston Harbor yesterday afternoon after a quick-thinking lock operator corralled the animal, wildlife officials said.

The seal swam inside a Charles River Dam lock near the Charlestown Bridge as a boat was exiting around 2:30 p.m. yesterday. An operator who spotted the mammal closed the lock and contacted the New England Aquarium, said William Gode, state director of flood control, who oversees the lock operations.

The locks control flow between the Charles River and the harbor. Aquarium officials had alerted the lock operators to the seal on Thursday, concerned that the animal would not find its way out before the Head of the Charles Regatta this weekend.

The adult seal, which was estimated to be between 5 and 6 feet long, appeared to be in excellent condition, said Tony LaCasse, spokesman for the aquarium. After aquarium officials positively identified the seal in the lock as the one that has been seen upstream in the river, it was released into Boston Harbor about an hour later.

Though the harbor seal, known to be a curious but shy animal, probably feasted on a “buffet of the bass, carp, and perch on the Charles River side,” it probably will not make its way back through the locks anytime soon, LaCasse said.

“He probably didn’t find the overall experience pleasant,” LaCasse said. The distress “will reinforce his sense that he doesn’t want to be in close proximity to people.”

L.Finch can be reached at lfinch@globe.com.

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