A distressed Harbor seal pup is seen, Sunday, near the...

A distressed Harbor seal pup is seen, Sunday, near the beach near where a humpback whale washed up in East Hampton last week. (April 11, 2010) Credit: Doug Kuntz

An East Hampton village police sergeant's search of a 4-mile stretch of ocean beach Sunday morning did not turn up the dart used last week in an unsuccessful attempt to sedate a beached whale.

But Sgt. Richard Mamay, combing the beaches in a four-wheel-drive vehicle, did find a female gray seal pup just west of where the whale washed up. He notified the Riverhead Foundation, and staff arrived and transported the seal to their facility.

"They say these things happen in threes, but enough is enough," said East Hampton Mayor Paul Rickenback. "We don't want a third one."

The search for the dart led Mamay from Georgica Beach in Wainscott to Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett. The 27-inch dart, which officials said initially contained a 50-milliliter dose of the sedatives Midazolam and medetomidine, was fired at the humpback whale Thursday but glanced off the animal. The whale was euthanized Friday.

The projectile probably no longer contains any sedative, officials have said, but beachgoers who find such an item should treat it as a biohazard and immediately call authorities.

Rickenback said the search for the dart will continue "for reasons of public safety."

Based on last week's experience, he said, "I think there will be a critique of the response teams and the agencies involved. Once all the reports come in, there will be a brainstorming of all the agencies, and we'll critique ourselves. You always want to learn from something like this . . . if, God forbid, this ever happens again."

Riverhead Foundation rescue program director Kim Durham said the seal pup was found to have an elevated white blood cell count indicating the presence of an infection. It was placed on antibiotics and will undergo an X-ray Monday, she said.

"She had multiple lacerations," Durham said. Beached gray seals tend to have such injuries, she said, "probably from other gray seals."

Durham said the seal was one of four reported to the foundation Sunday: A gray seal at Montauk was admitted with a compound fracture of the left jaw, a "severe trauma" that she said made the prognosis "pretty grim"; a gray seal at Oyster Bay died; and a harp seal at Jones Beach returned to the water before foundation staff were able to reach it.

With Deborah S. Morris

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