An Arctic seal found in a Fort Lauderdale canal — far from its habitat near the North Pole — died Tuesday, a day after it was captured.
The bearded seal was thin and dehydrated, though it was not immediately known what killed the animal. Dr. Christopher Dold, a staff veterinarian at SeaWorld, said the park would examine it Tuesday to try to learn more.
However, Dold said it may never be known why the animal came so far south.
“It may continue to live on in a land of speculation as to why this happened,” Dold said. “It’s such an isolated event.”
Rescuers used two nets to remove the 6-foot-long, 250-pound seal from a canal in a residential area Monday. It arrived at SeaWorld later that night.
“This is the first time we have had a bearded seal show up in Florida,” said Kim Amendola, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokeswoman. She said their typical habitat is north of Newfoundland.
The seal might have been caught up in an unusual current or it could have been following some elusive prey, said Blair Mase-Guthrie, NOAA’s stranding coordinator.
Bearded seals often travel alone and over long distances, Mase-Guthrie said. They are also used to frolicking in salt water, not a mix of salt and fresh water.
The seal was first spotted Thursday and was said to appear sickly. It was seen swimming south and officials had hoped to capture it Saturday, but it eluded rescue teams.