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Seal Pupping Season is Underway: Watch Out for Seals on the Shoreline

Contact:        Maggie Mooney-Seus                   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

                        978-281-9175                                   April 14, 2014

Harbor seal. Photo credit: NOAA

 

Seal Pupping Season is Underway:  Watch Out for Seals on the Shoreline

Report what you see. It helps us learn more about marine mammals

In late winter and early spring resident gray and harbor seals give birth. As a result, chances of encountering a mother and pup or a lone pup on a local beach increase.  NOAA Fisheries reminds members of the public to respect wildlife by maintaining a safe distance of at least 150 feet from seals.

“A mother seal may just be off feeding, when someone comes across a seal pup on the beach,” said Mendy Garrron, marine mammal stranding program coordinator, NOAA Fisheries. “The best thing you can do if you want to help is keep away from the animal and keep your pets away from it, so the mother has a chance to return.”

There are times when an individual marine mammal, like a seal, dolphin or a whale comes up on shore because it is sick or injured. There are also cases, when large numbers of marine mammals strand due to an outbreak of disease or if affected by changes in the environment like a harmful algal bloom.

Specific things that members of the public can do if they suspect an animal may be in trouble include:

NOAA Fisheries is the federal agency responsible for monitoring marine mammal populations in the United States. In this region, NOAA Fisheries relies on a team of dedicated, trained personnel from Maine to Virginia to assist the agency in carrying out its mission.

NOAA Fisheries is looking for new members for its Marine Mammal Stranding Network to service communities on the Massachusetts Northshore, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Network members are volunteer organizations trained and federally authorized to respond to sick or injured dolphins, seals and whales that strand along the U.S. shoreline at different times of the year. They play a critical role by assessing, responding and in some cases rehabilitating sick or injured marine mammals. Network members also recover and examine dead animals to monitor causes of mortalities (natural or human caused) that could pose health risks to marine mammal populations, people or pets.

The Marine Mammal Stranding Network has been in existence for several decades and is comprised of organizations from the wildlife rescue community, academic institutions, zoo/aquarium facilities, and federal state or local government agencies. The Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (MMHSRP) was officially formalized in 1992 under the Marine Protection Act of 1972 after numerous mass strandings and unusual mortality events occurred around the country. 

For more information on the Region Stranding Program (covering the coastlines of Maine to Virginia), please visit our website https://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/prot_res/stranding/.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us at http://www.noaa.gov or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/noaa.