Harbor seal anointed Rhode Island’s official marine mammal

Poppy, a 1-year-old harbor seal, was released back into the wild Thursday. (Photo: Mystic Aquarium)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The harbor seal is now Rhode Island’s official marine mammal.

Gov. Gina Raimondo on Thursday signed into law legislation that designates the harbor seal as the latest of several state emblems.

Coastal tourism groups and marine animal advocates pushed for the distinction as a way of raising awareness about the seal.

Hundreds of harbor seals winter in Narragansett Bay and nearby waters. Most travel north in the late spring around Massachusetts and toward colder waters near New Hampshire and Maine before returning to Rhode Island in the fall.

The harbor seal joins many other state emblems including the quahog (KOH’-hog), the state shell; and the Rhode Island Red chicken, the state bird.

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