SALISBURY, Mass. - It may not be an amazing animal story, but it is an inspirational one.
Marine scientists in Massachusetts report they removed a large fish hook from a habor seal pup stranded on a local beach and successfully returned it to the ocean.
A beachgoer spotted the distressed pup on Salisbury Beach in this coastal town last Friday.
Biologists from the New England Aquarium in Boston were alerted and advised police to rope off the area around the seal so no one would try to touch it, feed it or pour water on it.
They said the seal could have been scared to death if approached by bystanders.
"People see a habor seal pup, your sympathy comes out, you just want to help," said the acquarium's Tony LaCasse. "But your effort to help is actually injuring it."
Aquarium scientists said they removed the 3-inch fish hook from the seal's mouth and applied a topical antibiotic to the wound. They later released the pup without incident.
Hunting of seals is illegal in U.S. waters but they are often accidentally caught by commercial fish hooks or as bycatch in fishing nets.
Harbor seal pups, which seldom venture far from shore, are born between June and July in the north Atlantic.
Details for this story were provided by the Newburyport, Mass., Daily News.