Riverhead Foundation rescues harp seal at Rockaway Beach

A young seal in trouble was rescued Monday in Queens by The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, the group said.

Biologists took in the yearling harp seal from Rockaway Beach, with help from the New York City parks department and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, according to the foundation's Facebook page.

The young male weighed only 44 pounds and was being treated for dehydration, resting Monday night in one of 16 seal-rehabilitation tanks, the foundation said.

Harp seals can be found on pack ice through much of the North Atlantic and Artic oceans, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service, a federal agency.

These seals, which don't have ear flaps, are born white and molt before they become adults, the agency said.

The females give birth from late February to mid-March, and when the pups are about 80 pounds, the mothers wean them abruptly by leaving them on the ice, according to the service's website.

The pups remain on the ice for about six weeks, losing up to half their body weight before they go into the water and start feeding on their own, the fisheries service said.

In recent years, the service said, the number of harp seal sightings and strandings from January to May have increased off the East Coast, from Maine to New Jersey.

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