Scheduled maintenance helped seal trapped in Lock 1 in December to survive

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HALFMOON, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Take a look at the tunnels of the New York canal system where a seal was trapped during the winter.

Wrong Way Charlie was the seal with a bad sense of direction. He would have been trapped in December ice had it not been for maintenance work being done on a lock in the canal system.

The lucky marine mammal was safely returned to the ocean, and the New York State Canal Corporation gave NEWS10 ABC an up close look at Lock C1.

“We are at the bottom of Lock C1,” John Callaghan with the NYS Canal Corp. said. “This is a unique perspective. Typically, we would be under 15 ft. of water.”

During a pump out, all the water is removed from the 100-year-old lock to perform maintenance. Valves are replaced, metal is rewired, and the tunnels that flood the lock for ships and pleasure boats are cleaned.

“We are in the lower level valve tunnel,” Callaghan said. “Again, you would not want to be standing here when two million gallons of water would be coursing through this tunnel.”

Callaghan took NEWS10 through the tunnels that Charlie used as his own personal playground.

“Wrong Way Charlie had his run of the place,” he said. “It was like a maze for Charlie, and he just had a blast.”

It was the timing of the maintenance that saved Charlie. Every ten years, the gates are closed for the work, and it trapped Charlie inside. He was later rescued.

Back on the lock floor, Callaghan oversees the finishing touches before opening day on May 1.

“We are looking forward to a great 192nd navigation season on New York’s canal.

As for Charlie, officials said the last ping on hi satellite collar was about a month ago. He had already traveled up and down the Eastern seaboard.

It is likely the battery ran out, and the people at the lock just hope he is safe and stays put in the ocean.

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