Tag Archives: what to do for a beached seal

No Sealfies Please!

Monday morning there was a seal hauled out at Good Harbor and folks were taking selfies with the worn out little feller. Here’s what do if you come upon a seal that appears to be stranded on the beach.

DOS and DON’TS of Interacting with Seals on the Beach

DO stay at least one hundred and fifty feet away from the seal.

DO observe (from a distance, with binoculars or camera lens) for any outward sign of injury, bleeding or net entanglement, for example. If the seal appears injured, call this number: 866-755-6622 at the Northeast Region Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding and Entanglement Hotline.

DON’T try to feed the seal.

DON’T cover up the seal with a blanket.

DON’T pour water on the seal.

DON’T let your dog anywhere near the seal (dangerous for both animals).

DON’T try to help the seal back into the water.

DON’T take a selfie with the seal.

Harbor Seals are semi-aquatic and it is perfectly natural for a seal to beach themselves. Seals haul out all year round, and for a variety of reasons. They use rocks, reefs, and beaches. The seal may need to rest, for thermal regulation (to warm up), to molt, to give birth, to socialize with other seals, or are trying to escape danger, such as a shark. When you force the seal back into the water by getting too close and frightening the creature, before it is ready to return to the sea, you are potentially causing the seal a great deal of harm.

How to Help a Seal on the Beach

Several mornings ago I went for an early morning walk at Good Harbor and discovered this beautiful baby Harbor Seal stranded at the high water mark. Over the next six hours it struggled to survive the world of curious humans. Fortunately, all ended well and the seal returned to the sea. I’ll post a PSA video later in the week because a great many of the beach goers today seemed completely clueless to the fact that stranded baby seals must be left alone. I had to call the environmental police (thank you Lieutenant Roger Thurlow) to prevent this one man from actually touching the seal, despite the fact that the seal’s breathing was obviously very labored and it was terrified. Later in the morning a lifeguard appeared and kept the crowd under control. I asked for her name but the lifeguards have been instructed not to speak to the media. I hope the lifeguard sees this post because I would like to thank her–she did an absolutely awesome job keeping people from getting too close to the seal–and it wasn’t easy.

Good Harbor Beach Harbor Seal ©Kim Smith 2013Click photo to view larger