CHARLESTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — She’s back in the game.
Mystic Aquarium teamed up with New England Patriots Trey Flowers Tuesday morning for the release of a rehabilitated harbor seal — which they named after the defensive lineman.
The seal returned to the wild at Blue Shutters Beach in Charlestown.
The aquarium took in the eight- or nine-month-old harbor seal back in December, after the Long Island-based Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation rescued her. She had several body wounds that needed treatment.
Mystic Aquarium teams ended up naming her Trey, paying tribute to Flowers’ performance in Super Bowl LI. His six tackles and two-and-a-half sacks helped fuel the come-from-way-behind win in overtime. In fact, the aquarium chooses a theme each year to name its rehabbed animals. The theme for 2017 is flowers.
Flowers, the human, was given the honor of opening the pet carrier for Trey Flowers, the harbor seal.
Before the ceremony, Flowers took the opportunity to grab a selfie of the two of them, getting up next to the cage as the seal peered out behind her whiskers. He supposed Tuesday was the first time he’d seen a seal in his life; it was definitely the first time he’d been up close enough to shake hands (or flippers).
Then, it was time to take the field.
The release happened as many others have: the cage door was opened as spectators watched in a hushed silence. The seal nosed out of the cage then slid out on her belly. Was she looking for an open teammate?
Trey the seal continued scooting down the beach, hitting the water to applause before her head bobbed out into the waves.
To reporters moments later, Flowers the Patriot praised the aquarium’s mission. “You see an animal out there, in need… hungry, or starving… It’s a cool idea,” he said.
When rescuers brought her in, Trey the seal had first weighed 30 pounds; when she returned to the wild, she was a healthy 48 pounds.
At 6′ 2″, the former Arkansas Razorback weighs in at five and a half times that: about 265 pounds.
“I don’t know any teammates of mine that have an animal named after them,” Flowers said.