What’s a flipper between sisters?
Just a short time after suffering the heartbreak of losing one of its most beloved residents, Jenkinson’s Aquarium in Point Pleasant Beach announced a heartwarming story of two mammals who will get to live their lives with plenty of fish, fawning and attention.
Jenkinson’s lost Luseal, a 34-year-old harbor seal who was rescued after losing an eye and becoming stranded in the Point Pleasant Canal in the early 1990s. “Lucy” became a favorite of visitors and staff, and though she needed to be kept in captivity due to her injuries, she lived more than a decade longer than most of her counterparts in the wild.
Jenkinson’s officials say a new harbor seal – who, like Lucy, found herself a bit too banged up for the wilds of the ocean – has taken residence at the boardwalk-based aquarium. This young seal, which will join Lucy’s former playmate, are not Jersey Shore natives, but rather California “beach bums” who came east to capture the hearts of Shore boardwalk visitors.
“Turbo,” a Pacific harbor seal, was rescued by the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, Calif., when she was only 2 weeks old on a rocky beach in California. She was brought to the center April 15, 2023 after being found in Rocky Point in Marin County, north of San Francisco. She was only about 15-pounds when rescued.
“She was separated from her mom and suffered some injuries including those to her front flipper, which led to her needing that flipper amputated,” Jenkinson’s staff said in an announcement. “She was deemed non-releasable by NOAA due to her removed flipper and general lack of chasing and eating fish, both which would severely lessen her chances of survival in the wild.”
She was released from the California facility Jan. 17 and arrived at Jenkinson’s Aquarium about a month ago. She was then introduced to her “big sister,” Noelani, on Monday.
“The girls are going great together and Turbo can’t wait to meet all the visitors!” the announcement said.
Noelani and Turbo are not genetically related, but will occupy the same space together. Previously, Noelani shared the water with Lucy, and was known for being extra playful and happy to be around a friend. Coincidentally, Noelani was also stranded in California and recovered at the same rescue center in Sausalito. She was also deemed non-releasable due to clinical blindness caused by a form of brain atrophy.
Noelani was born in 2017 and rescued in 2018, coming to Point Pleasant Beach later that year.
Pacific harbor seals can reach 170-pounds in weight, though Noelani was always notably smaller than her late tank-mate Lucy. We’ll have to see how Turbo grows over the years to come.