Thoughtful Thursdays: Spotted! Seals Make Their Way to MD Shores

As temperatures continue to drop here in Maryland and along the East Coast, migrating seals are making their way back to our shores!

This seal was spotted near 28th street in Ocean City, Maryland! Photo via Maryland Coastal Bays Program

This seal was spotted near 28th street in Ocean City, Maryland! Photo via Maryland Coastal Bays Program

Seals 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. 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 lots of space (at least 100 feet of distance) and stay downwind, if possible. 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.

Furthermore, disturbing the animal by making it change locations or flee back into the water is against the law. Seals are federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

A healthy, resting seal will typically be seen in a “banana position” on their side with their head or rear flippers in the air (see photo below). A seal that is entangled in marine debris or has physical wounds will often be resting flat on its stomach and may need medical attention.


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 1-800-628-9944.

8 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursdays: Spotted! Seals Make Their Way to MD Shores”

  1. 3 Annette January 18, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Great information!

  2. 4 kati rowe January 18, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    3 years ago when we were in OC we were lucky enough to have witnessed humpback whales. They were so close to the shore, it didn’t seem like they were bothered by swimmers and the other way. Everyone just watched in aww as they floated by. It was an amazing thing which I will never forget. Just think at our Ocean City.

    • 5 National Aquarium January 18, 2013 at 4:19 pm

      Wow, Kati! You guys were incredibly lucky to experience that. With migratory animals like whales and seals, although we can determine seasonal trends, it’s not always known when and if we’ll spot them!

  3. 6 Jen January 18, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Living In Ocean City, I have never been fortunate enough to see a seal on our beaches but often wondered what, if anything, we should do if we did spot one. This is really good info to pass along.

    • 7 National Aquarium January 18, 2013 at 4:21 pm

      We’re glad we could be of help! It can be hard to spot them as they continue their journey down to North Carolina. You (and anyone in the OC community) can always reach out to us if you spot something or have any questions!

  1. 1 A Blue View: Seal Season « National Aquarium | WATERblog Trackback on February 13, 2013 at 4:31 pm

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