Back in August, I wrote a sad story about a baby seal that my family found at Parson’s Beach. We watched over it, called the rescue hotline, and sadly, later returned to find that it had died.

There is a positive side to the story, however, which is that this incident led us to find out more about the organization that does these kinds of rescues, learning that one of their facilities is right here in Midcoast Maine.

I had heard about the Marine Mammal Triage Center in Harpswell before, but didn’t know much about its work. This is the facility for the non-profit Marine Mammals of Maine. I had a wonderful conversation with Lynda Doughty, founder and executive director, about what we had witnessed and how we might be able to help in the future.

She explained Marine Mammals of Maine is a volunteer-based organization with people all along the coast who are trained to help stranded or sick marine mammals and turtles. They are always stretched and in need of more help and more supplies.

To that end, my girls put on a lemonade stand and raised $47 in two afternoons. When we told the story of the seal we had seen, people put as much as $5 in our donation jar for a single cup of lemonade.

We were able to deliver this donation in person to Lynda and she graciously gave us a tour of the facility. It is a small center in a warehouse building off Harpswell Road, but has an impressive capacity to help struggling marine mammals. There are a couple of different types of pools for rehabilitation, as well as all kinds of sophisticated testing equipment to help determine what might be ailing them.

Prior to the founding of this center, animals from Maine had to be transported to Massachusetts for rehabilitation.

So what happens to these animals after they have recovered? It is always heartening to hear a success story – or two. At the end of September, two harbor seals from Maine were released from the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut. One had been stranded in East Boothbay in May and was rescued by volunteers there, and another was only a few days old and was found right in Harpswell.

I read another of the case studies on MMoME’s website about a juvenile harp seal that was stranded in a salt marsh in Brunswick. Harp seals migrate down to the Maine coast in the winter and head back to the Arctic each summer. Volunteers assessed his condition and found that he was severely dehydrated. They were able to give him an IV with fluids and a generous helping of fresh herring. He perked up and was released.

Other releases are planned for this fall as the organization gains necessary federal approvals. There are many regulatory hurdles to get through in arranging a release because the animals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, put in place in 1972 to help safeguard marine mammals in the United States.

Stay tuned to hear about when this may be taking place, as the public will be welcome to attend.

If you are wondering what you can do to help, there are multiple ways. MMoME just hosted their biggest fundraiser of the year – the Ocean Commotion 5K on Hermit Island in Phippsburg. But, it isn’t too late to donate to the organization, and you can always put this on your calendar for next year.

MMoME holds several events throughout the year to gather needed supplies for their rescue teams and to train volunteers. There is an upcoming information session on Nov. 11 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at the Triage Center where you can learn about how you can help.

For more information, visit www.mmome.org, call 833-3312 or email [email protected].