WOODS HOLE, Mass. — At the same time that increasing numbers of people are heading outdoors enjoying the spring weather and observing social distancing, many species of seals, dolphins and whales are also using these areas and also need space — at least 150 feet from humans and our pets.
On March 25, on Fire Island, N.Y., beachgoers dragged an adult harp seal that was resting on a beach back into the water, according to the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center. Captured on film, the seal appeared weak and in poor health.
“Being dragged into the water further compromised its chances of survival and likely contributed to additional suffering, and ultimately, its death,” a statement from the agency said.
Another healthy, resting adult harp seal was dragged into the water by beach goers using towing straps earlier in March. That seal has not been seen again.
“While these individuals may have had good intentions, their actions worsened the situation resulting in a tragic ending,” the statement said. “It is illegal to harass marine mammals. That includes feeding, petting or other activities that are likely to cause distress or harm to the animals. Only experts who have legal permits should handle and attend to their health needs.”
If you see a seal on the beach, do not touch or attempt to feed it. It is normal for a mother to leave her pup on the beach while she goes in search of food, sometimes for as long as 24 hours. To report a marine mammal stranding in the Mount Desert Island area, contact Allied Whale at College of the Atlantic at 266-1326.