Another seal in Winthrop

On Saturday morning, I received a call about a seal in Winthrop. One of our field volunteers went to check on it immediately and found a healthy harp seal resting on the beach. Everything seemed pretty quiet throughout the day and our volunteer checked on it multiple times, but by 4pm more people on the beach meant more people approaching and harassing the seal. It is normal for seals to rest on the beach and they are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which means harassing (any disturbance that will alter normal behavior including approaching, loud noise, feeding, etc.) seals is illegal. Unfortunately people started trying to pet the seal (one person almost got bit) and get it back in the water, but this does more harm than good. Here are more tips on what to do if you come across a seal on the beach.

At 4:30p I dispatched our field volunteer back out to assess the situation. She reported back that she was able to control the scene, but there were lots of people around. I asked another field volunteer to help her while a team and myself gathered our gear and headed up there.

I examined the animal and assessed that it was fairly healthy and resting on the beach. He did seem extremely stressed since he was shivering and waving his flipper at me, both of which are stress responses. I retreated back to a safe distance so that he would relax and made a plan to relocate the seal to a more remote location where he could get the rest he needed.

We decided to kennel the seal and release it on a quiet beach. Relocation is a last resort because it is an extremely stressful situation for the animal as well. The best thing would have been for it to get the rest it needed on the beach without human interference. I marked him with an orange dot prior to release so that we would be able to identify him if he came up on another beach. He ended up going back into the water, and likely found another (and hopefully quiet) beach to rest.


This is not the first time a seal in Winthrop drew a crowd. Check out this previous post to see how rescuers handled a very similar situation.

1 comment:

  1. It really amazes me that people try to touch these wild animals — madness!