Oak Bluffs Police responded to a seal crossing the road near Little Bridge on Sea View Avenue Tuesday night around 7 pm. An individual driving by first spotted the seal, and pulled up to the officer running radar about a quarter-mile up the road, according to Sgt. Michael Marchand.
Officers Seth Harlow and James Bishop tried to guide the seal back to the water’s edge, but were unsuccessful at first. They retreated to the police station, where they grabbed an empty garbage barrel used to confine the seal, which appeared to be in good health, according to Sgt. Marchand.
“I think it just got lost,” Sgt. Marchand said. “Its GPS wasn’t working, and it had to be redirected back on course.”
Police led the seal back to the water’s edge, he said.
Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary director Suzan Bellincampi said it’s normal for seals to haul themselves out from the water, especially this time of year. “It’s pupping season, so the young ones are out and about,” she said in a phone interview with The Times.
She said a seal on the beach is normal, and people should let them be. Seals are marine mammals, a protected species, and there are legal requirements as to how close people can get. But a seal on Sea View Avenue is “not ideal,” Bellincampi said, and officers were right to respond.
There are few people licensed to respond to situations involving seals like Tuesday’s, which are uncommon to the town, according to Sgt. Marchand. During normal circumstances, people can call the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), but the office is currently closed due to the government shutdown. Bret Stearns, director of natural resources for the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), is also licensed to handle seals, according to Bellincampi.