From December through February, gray seals give birth on islands and shoreline areas in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. It’s not uncommon to see a mother and pup or a lone pup on a beach, according to NOAA Fisheries.
“A mother seal may be off feeding when someone comes across a seal pup on the beach,” says Mendy Garron, marine mammal stranding program coordinator for NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region. “The best thing you can do is keep people and pets away from the seal pup, so the mother has a chance to return.”
Gray seal pups are very vocal, and can sound like a baby crying, but this is normal behavior and doesn’t necessarily mean that the pup is in distress. This vocalization helps the mother find the pup when she returns from foraging.
Seal pups are often higher up on the beach, near the high tide line or even in the dunes, for protection while the mother is away. Sometimes pups do wander far from the beach, ending up in unusual places.
NOAA Fisheries reminds members of the public to respect wildlife by maintaining a safe distance of at least 150 feet from seals.
The NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional 24-hour hotline is 866-755-6622.
photo credit: Mother gray seal and pup. Credit: K. Murray, NEFSC/NOAA
source: NOAA Fisheries