Document Type

Honors Thesis


Marine Science


Kristina Cammen

Committee Members

Heather Hamlin, Pauline Kamath, Anne Lichtenwalner, Christopher Mares

Graduation Year

May 2021

Publication Date

Spring 5-2021


Harbor seals frequently strand along the northeast coast of the United States due to injury, illness, disease, and human interaction. In Maine, a non-profit organization, Marine Mammals of Maine (MMoME), is federally authorized to respond to these stranded animals and provide short-and long-term rehabilitation, with the ultimate aim to release the seals back into the wild. I investigated the role of multiple potential measures of marine mammal health that are evaluated at admit in determining rehabilitation success of dependent and weaned harbor seal pups from 2016 to 2019. The variables assessed were the day of the year the patients were first observed in the field, the amount of time they were observed in the field before collection, findings of human interaction, age class, weight:length ratio, and 43 blood parameters. This analysis found that pups have a greater likelihood of being released if they strand later in the year (p<0.05). The longer an individual is in rehabilitation, the less likely they are to be released (p<0.0001). Pups that were transferred from MMoME to another rehabilitation facility had a greater likelihood of being released (p<0.05). Harbor seals that stranded when they were dependent pups were more likely to be released than weaned pups (p<0.05). Pups with a lower lymphocyte concentration at admit (p<0.001) and a higher total protein concentration (p<0.05) were more likely to be released. These findings may help rehabilitation organizations determine which harbor seal pups will be good candidates for a successful rehabilitation early on in the process.