BIDDEFORD, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A harbor seal named "Grattoni" got a special gift this holiday season: freedom.
After having been beached in Ogunquit and put under for surgery, the Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center helped him flop back to the sea on Sunday.
Grattoni the seal pup was found in September by Susan Marciano and Kym Cardoza. The two were walking along Marginal Way in Ogunquit and overheard people saying there was a dead seal on the beach.
"I just wanted to see if he was breathing maybe and so we walked down on the rocks and saw that he had really shallow breathing," says Cardoza. "So we called the hotline."
Grattoni was rushed to the Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center, suffering from a life-threatening shoulder abscess.
He underwent 2 major surgeries and rehabilitation in a remarkable 3 months.
Today, Grattoni is described by the Rehabilitation Director, Keith Matasse, as "fat and happy." The only sickness he suffers is stage fright. It took Grattoni about 30 minutes to make his way to the water.
"We we're a little worried but he seemed to be a really excited to be going back out there," says Cardoza. "So as soon as he saw the water and made his dash for it that was really rewarding.
If you come across a stranded marine animal, experts say not to touch or feed them and to call the Maine Marine Animal Reporting Hotline: 1-800-532-9551
The Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center is offering behind the scenes tours at their facility through December 31st in exchange for their often used items:
Measuring Cups (No smaller than 1 cup in volume; preferably in ml)
Rubber Scrapers/ Silicone Spatulas
Tupperware/ Rubbermaid Containers(1 or 2 gallon pitchers)
Stainless Steel Buckets
Nitrile Gloves (non-latex, allergy free rubber gloves, all sizes)
Rubber Boots (calf height; must be new - all sizes)
Grunden's Bibs (commercial quality - all sizes)
Batteries (9-Volt, C, AA, AAA)
Packing Tape / Duct Tape
Tie Wraps/ Zip-Ties (all sizes)
Tools (screwdrivers and channel lock pliers)