No Selfies With Seals

Jane Bimson

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has advised the public to keep its distance from seal pups that may be resting on the beach.

Pupping season is underway, and it is common for mother seals to leave their young alone on the beach for up to 24 hours while they feed.

NOAA's Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office has advised staying at least 50 yards away from seals to ensure human and animal safety. Approaching them is considered harassment and is illegal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.

According to the fisheries office, mother seals can interpret a person near her pup as an ongoing threat and abandon it. "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," Mendy Garron, a marine mammal stranding program coordinator at NOAA, said.

Reports of marine mammals that appear to be in distress can be made to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation hotline, 631-369-9829. Reports can also be made to sightings@riverheadfoundation.org, where cell phone photographs are encouraged.

Reports can also be made to the NOAA Fisheries Northeast Regional Stranding Center's 24-hour number, 866-755-6622.