By Tracey Hall ~
We have talked about the fun time you can have on guided seal watching tours. Now that baby seals are starting to rest on our docks and shorelines, we cannot stress enough how important it is to keep your distance. You may think they are cold by the way they dry themselves off, or rocking back and forth in the sand, but they absolutely don’t need a towel or blanket.
If you get too close, the seal may grunt or snarl, and will not hesitate to bite as a means of self-protection. It is illegal to assist or touch seals and if you find one, the best route to take is to inform the Marine Mammal Stranding Center. They will send out one of their professionals to assess the situation.
Seals are federally protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Under this law it is illegal to harass, harm, or disturb a seal’s natural behaviors. If you see a seal, please follow NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Seal Viewing Guidelines to keep yourself and the seal safe.
SEAL VIEWING GUIDELINES
Stay at least 150 feet away. Leave seal pups alone their mothers may return soon and human interference can cause them to be abandoned.
Seals bite. Never attempt to touch them and keep pets on leashes when seals are near. Keep the area quiet and limit disturbance.
Do not pour water on or attempt to cover seals.
Never feed seals – this is illegal and can make the animals sick or dependent on people. Do not push seals back into the water, follow seals into the water, or attempt to swim with seals. Kayakers and paddleboarders- keep your distance from animals resting on shore. Your quiet vessels may scare the seals and make them return to the water.
Call for help if seal appears injured or sick. NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Marine Animal Reporting Hotline 866-755-NOAA (6622)