Seal on ice: Visitor heads up the Penobscot, finds rough sledding

BANGOR, Maine — While many Mainers are lamenting the late arrival of spring, at least one resident has apparently had enough.

- A seal was seen swimming around the Penobscot River on Thursday.  Brian Feulner | BDN

– A seal was seen swimming around the Penobscot River on Thursday. Brian Feulner | BDN

On Thursday, a seal made its way up the Penobscot River as far as Sea Dog Brewing Company, where it ran into winter, head-on.

The seal — nicknamed “Sam,” according to one Sea Dog employee, but dubbed “Sealy Dan” or “The Easter Seal” by a throng of BDN employees, has reportedly been in the river for several days. At one point on Thursday, a second seal was spotted, though it had disappeared by the time the media posse showed up, en masse.

"Sealy Dan at work. Brian Feulner | BDN

“Sealy Dan at work. Brian Feulner | BDN

Seals are sometimes seen in Bangor — and even farther up river — and the commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources chuckled when asked for comment on the seemingly wayward mammal.

“It must be a pretty slow news day if you’re chasing seals on the Penobscot,” Patrick Keliher said. “Really, it’s not totally uncommon to see seals up in  a river this time of year.”

Keliher said a couple years ago two young seals were seen in Benton when river herring were running upstream, and he said in the lower reaches of rivers, seals will often wait for early schools of smelts or herring.

Brian Feulner | BDN

Brian Feulner | BDN

And while Keliher admitted that a river full of ice might not seem to be ideal for seals, it would make sense if there was a food source around.

“It’s early, but you could get a gathering of river herring in rivers [at this time of year],” Keliher said.


John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.