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Weymouth couple could face fine for helping baby seal


MARSHFIELD, Mass. ( -- A North Weymouth couple who attempted to aid a baby seal at a Marshfield beach could face a $5,000 fine.

Mark Hodgdon was scuba diving around 1:30 p.m. when he said he found a stranded baby seal covered in bite marks.

"As I got a little big closer, he just swam closer to me and jumped right up on my shoulder," said Hodgdon.

Hodgdon said the seal was barely floating and was doing everything it could to take a breath. He said he got the 2-foot pup onto a raft and it immediately stuck its neck out and kissed him. He said he brought the seal to shore to get a better view of its injuries.

"There was a whole row of marks going across his belly up on his side," Hodgdon explained. "You could just tell his whole body was in the shark. It had to have been."

Hodgdon said the rescue quickly turned from a heartwarming experience to a frustrating one. When a New England Aquarium volunteer arrived, Hodgdon claims they didn't want to touch it or help.

"I mean, they're supposed to be there to help these little animals and they did nothing, nothing," said Mary, Hodgdon's fiancee. "So it breaks my heart."

The couple claims the volunteer asked them how they knew the seal was hurt and if they took an X-ray before putting the seal back into the water.

According to an animal control officer in Marshfield, the volunteer arrived at the scene quickly and assessed the seal, determining it only suffered slight abrasions to its tail and was not in any danger.

"I think he probably drowned and he's been on my mind every minute since Sunday, I haven't stopped thinking about him," said Mary.

Touching the seal was a violation of the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act and the couple could face a $5,000 fine. Aquarium officials say even though their intentions were good, if you see a seal you should not approach it. Anyone who thinks a seal is in distress is asked to call the U.S. Coast Guard or emergency officials and stay nearby so it can be found.