NOAA advises beachgoers to leave seals alone


May and June are peak months for harbor seals to give birth along the Northeastern coast. Harbor seals tend to haul out on rocky islands and ledges to give birth or just rest, but they may also find a sandy beach to occupy, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“It is important that people don’t approach, handle, or feed these animals,” said Mendy Garron, marine mammal stranding coordinator for the Northeast Region of NOAA Fisheries Service. “Even though they look cute, these are wild animals and getting too close puts the animal, humans, and pets at risk.”

Observing the animal from a distance is the best way to avoid disturbing it or being injured. Under federal law it is illegal and punishable by law to pick up, handle, or interact with free-swimming, dead, or beached marine protected species. This includes seals, whales, dolphins, porpoise, and sea turtles.

When encountering a seal on a beach stay at least 150 feet away, keep other people and dogs away, andcall a local marine mammal stranding network member or call NOAA Fisheries Service’s stranding hotline at 1-866-755-NOAA (6622).