First Seal Of The New Year
This morning Lynne Larson sent me a text message. “There is this cute little fella on the beach at Tower road. There are a lot of people out here, I contacted MERR, (Marine Education, Research & Rehabilitation Institute).” I turned around and headed back to the beach, which is where I was headed until I got side tracked to go home and clean the man cave bait freezer that died two days ago. It’s bad, I mean really bad. That whale smelled better. This seal would probably dig the contents of that freezer. Procrastination was replaced by helping watch a seal, I’ll call that a win. Man cave still smells bad.
Anyway, I arrived at the beach and there were about twenty people surrounding the seal. We explained to them, politely, that they needed to back away at least 150 feet per federal law. Most of them were okay with that, none had ever seen a seal up close or in Delaware. Which was a really cool treat for the kids that were there. The beach was packed with walkers, shellers, joggers, and dog walkers. Everyone was taking pictures and video with their phones. We had our hands full for a little bit, but everyone was very respectful, curious, and awed at the same time. “I didn’t know seals were here.” .. Is it lost?” … Why is it here?” .. “There are seals on the east coast?” The usual questions a crowd asks. Seals migrate to our area every year and winter on the coast. They have been found as far south as North Carolina and then some.
Rob Rector, a volunteer for MERR the last 15 years, arrived and we helped him keep people at a safe distance. Not only is that necessary for the seal, but people as well. Seals are mammals and they can carry diseases and bacteria that can transfer to humans. Contact with them is not a good idea, and consequently illegal. Rob is good people and great asset to MERR, I had a good time trading stories while he waited for the rest of his volunteers.
MERR will create a perimeter and keep people away so as not to disturb this seal while it is resting. “Nine out of ten times they pull up onto a beach to rest and digest their food. This one looks like it is just resting and is fine. Suzanne messaged me and confirmed it is a Harp seal. It is not a juvenile as it has lost all of its fur.” I took some close up shots for MERR with Rob’s supervision. Using the camera with the big lens, we could see anywhere it may be injured without intruding its space too much.
If you see a seal on a beach or anywhere, you can contact MERR by texting the location to 302.228.5029. They will come out and check the seal and make sure it is not distressed or sick and then keep people away so it can rest and digest. I mean who seriously, wants to be disturbed during an afternoon nap after a killer holiday meal. If the seal pulled up due to sickness or distress, MERR will evaluate the situation, and capture it for rehabilitation, but only if necessary. Rob Rector … “It looks close to adult age, seemed ambulatory and a good size. It is very alert and we are not concerned for its health. No worries!” Ambulatory means it was very active and happy.
The main reason to not approach a seal and leave them alone is seals will avoid predators by pulling up on the beach and if you scare them back into the water. It could be right into the very predator that chased it to the beach. By predator we mean sharks, large sharks, particularly great white sharks. Always leave them alone and keep your distance. Yes they look like cute little puppies, they are not puppies, and certainly don’t have the temperament of a puppy, but they are cute. One way you can help these creatures for MERR, besides leaving them alone, is to volunteer or donate to the institute.