The Marine Education, Research & Rehabilitation Institute hopes to build a visitor and education center to help advance its mission

By Lynn R. Parks | Photograph by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
From the October 2018 issue


On a Sunday evening in late April, a man who was walking his dog in Rehoboth Beach spotted something unusual. A young gray seal was making its way west along Brooklyn Avenue, pulling itself with its flippers in the opposite direction of the Atlantic Ocean, where it should have been.

The man did what hundreds of people have done in the past 18 years: He called the Marine Education, Research & Rehabilitation Institute, known as MERR, and reported the situation.

Within minutes, institute founder and director Suzanne Thurman had contacted three of her volunteers and asked them to respond to the site near the boardwalk. Rob Rector, who lives near Rehoboth and has served on the MERR board for more than a decade, was one of those volunteers.

He arrived there late in the evening “and the seal was resting against the southern wall of Funland,” Rector recalls. It had a small scrape on a back flipper, but other than that appeared to be in good health.

Thurman, who had to travel from her home in Milton, arrived on the scene after the volunteers. The four of them managed to get the young seal into a crate, which they loaded onto a truck and took to a remote spot along the southern edge of Cape Henlopen State Park, just north of Rehoboth Beach. There, the seal was released.

The call had come in at 9:30 in the evening. The rescue was completed two hours later.



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