Posts Tagged 'seals in maryland'

First Seal of the Season Spotted in Maryland!

national aquarium Animal Rescue Update

Earlier this morning, we received photo confirmation of the first seal sighting along the Maryland coast!

seal on the beach

Every winter, migrating seals make their way back to our shores. Seals are semi-aquatic, which means they like to spend part of their time in the water and part of their time on land. During migration, seals will typically spend a couple of days swimming south, occasionally hauling out on beaches, rocks or docks to rest.

If you’re lucky enough to see a seal on the beach, it’s best to give the animal at least 100 feet of space and, if possible, stay downwind. Enjoy watching our seasonal visitors from a distance (and take plenty of photos/videos!) but please try not to disturb them, as they still have a long journey ahead of them!

As you see in the photo above, a healthy seal can usually be observed resting in a “banana position,” on their side with their head and/or rear flippers in the air. A seal that is injured, ill or entangled in marine debris, it will often be seen resting flat on its stomach.

If you see a seal that may be in need of medical attention, please call the National Aquarium’s Stranding Hotline at (410) 373-0083 or the Natural Resources Police at (800) 628-9944! 

In Maryland, you can also report seal sightings on the Maryland Coastal Bays Program’s website.

The National Aquarium and Maryland Coastal Bays Program have partnered together to promote responsible viewing of marine mammals, both along the Maryland coast and within the entire mid-Atlantic region. Funding for this joint awareness campaign was provided by the John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program.

national aquarium animal rescue expert

Winter visitors to Maryland

While humans may not appreciate the benefit of a cold, brisk day outside (much like it has been in Maryland lately), there are some animals that certainly enjoy the cold weather in Maryland… seals!

Every winter we receive questions from Marylanders about groups of seals spotted along the coast for extended periods of time, wondering if this is a common occurence or something officials should be monitoring. We’re very glad you asked, and happy to share more information about seals.

Seals are seasonal visitors to Maryland during the winter months, and will even travel as far south as North Carolina. They prefer a cold-water environment and often travel south from subarctic areas in the winter months.

These mammals are semi-aquatic, which means they like to spend part of the time in the water, and part of the time on land. They will typically spend multiple days swimming south, only to haul out on beaches, rocks or docks to rest for 24 hours or more. Seals will also haul out on exceptionally stormy or sunny days – this gives them a chance to wait out the stormy seas or soak up some warm sun, depending on the weather.

If you’re lucky enough to see a seal on the beach in Maryland, it’s best to give the animal a lot of space – at least 100 feet, or about the length of six standard cars – and stay downwind of the animal if possible. Disturbing seals by making them change locations or flee back into the water is against the law, as they are federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Aside from being illegal to approach them, it is in your best interest to keep your distance! Even though they look very cute and innocent, we must remember that they are wild animals. Take a look at the teeth on this furry guy:

So how do you know if a seal is just resting or possibly stranded? A healthy, resting seal will typically be resting in a “banana position,” on its side with its head or rear flippers in the air, like this:

A seal that is entangled in marine debris or has physical wounds and may be in need of medical attention will often be resting flat on its stomach. If you see a seal that may be in need of medical attention, please call the National Aquarium’s Stranding Hotline at 410-373-0083, or Natural Resources Police at 1-800-628-9944.

By all means, enjoy watching the seals and take plenty of pictures, but please do not disturb them – they have had a long commute from the north!


Sign up for AquaMail

Twitter Updates


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 238 other followers