SHREWSBURY – A harp seal discovered in a duck pond is recovering at the Marine Mammal Stranding Center after he followed a tributary creek and became stuck in the mud.

The center, on its Facebook page, said the seal was underweight and exhausted when he was found March 23 in the Shrewsbury pond with nothing to eat except mud and leaves.

Center Executive Director Robert Schoelkopf said that a diver was able to use a special net to pull the 200-pound seal out of the pond. A group of volunteers carried him to a waiting vehicle. The harp seal was then taken to the center's rehabilitation pool, where  the process of cleaning the caked on mud off his body was started.

Schoelkopf told the Asbury Park Press the seal likely swam about two miles of a tributary before it became trapped.

The harp seal has passed the mud and other things it had to eat while it was stuck, according to the center. He's been eating 12 pounds of fish daily along with ice to get back up to his normal weight of about 400 pounds.

Schoelkopf told the Press he gives the harp seal a 50-50 chance of surviving.

The shelter asks for donations to help care the seal on its website.

Harp seals spend most of their time swimming in the northern Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, according to National Geographic. They have powerful flippers, sharp teeth and can stay under the water for up to 15 minutes.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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