Adorably cute baby seal stranded in Seaside Park dunes now recovering

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SEASIDE PARK, NJ – The Marine Mammal Stranding Center has taken in its first patient of 2022, a young grey seal pup that was stranded on the dunes in Seaside Park.

“On January 23rd, this female grey seal pup was discovered resting up against the dunes on the beach in Seaside Park. The pup is still covered in her white birthing coat (lanugo), so we are estimating her age to be approximately 3-4 weeks old. She is underweight, weighing in at only 30.5lbs,” the center said.

Pup was separated too early from mother, officials say

MMSC said the little pup likely did not learn how to eat on her own after being weaned from her mother.

“Grey seals only nurse for about two weeks, and once weaned they are completely independent. Grey seal pups weigh about 30-35lbs when they are born, and by the time they are weaned they can triple their body weight,” MMSC adde. “The second photo (taken this morning on Seal Island, Maine via the Explore.org live camera feed of the pupping grounds) illustrates typical body condition of grey seal pups immediately after weaning. The pups will live off of their fat reserves as they learn to hunt for fish on their own. It seems this little one wasn’t successfully feeding herself, so she dropped back down to close to birth weight by the time she completed her 400+ mile marathon swim from the pupping grounds in Maine to New Jersey.”

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Seal pup taken to MMSC ICU

Once the pup arrived at the Center, she was moved into the ICU and given supportive care with fluids and assist-feeding fish. The pup is alert and aggressive, both are behaviors that we like to see from these wild animals. On Monday afternoon, the pup was offered live minnows in her pool. Her instincts started to kick in and initiated a feeding response. The new patient, officially known as grey seal #22-001, is doing well in “fish school” and is starting to eat on her own today. This little pup will stay with us until she has gained more weight before being released back into the wild.

Don’t bother the seals, it’s against the law

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center also reminds beach area residents that if they see a seal or other mammal on the beach to stay away and do not interact or engage with it. You should stay at least 150 feet away from the animal and not interrupt, and don’t go posting selfies with the seals either.

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Federal law declares seals as a protected species and it is illegal to disturb them…and please, keep your dogs away. They just want to enjoy their own ‘locals only’ winter and be left alone, just like the rest of us.

What to do if you spot a seal pup on the beach

  • Call your local Marine Wildlife Rescue operator immediately and take their advice. You should also inform the authorities responsible for managing the beach, including the police.
  • Do not touch the animal or try to move it.
  • Try to keep onlookers and dog walkers away from the pup until the authorities arrive. Keep disturbance to a minimum.
  • Do not post photos of the seal on social media, especially busy forums, as this will attract more visitors. Not everyone is informed about how to behave around marine animals in distress.
  • Observe the animal from a distance of at least 150 feet.  (courtesy of Marine Diemensions)

What to do if you spot a seal on the beach

  • Observe it from 150 feet away or more.
  • Nothing.
  • If the seal appears to be in distress, call the Marine Mammal Stranding Center and the local police department.
  • Don’t yell at the seal, shout, scream etc.
  • Keep your dog(s) leashed and remove them from the area if they become agressive or begin barking at the seal.
  • Do not feed the seal.
  • Don’t turn the poor guy into a celebrity chased by the paparazzi. Take pictures, but wait a while before posting them on social media. Wait until the seal has left the area.
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