BELMAR, NJ — A young harp seal came up on the Belmar beach near 19th Avenue yesterday afternoon for a bit of rest and relaxation before returning to the waters by this morning.
After spotting the 1-year-old male seal on the sunny beach on February 25, onlookers were quick to call the Marine Mammal Stranding Center (MMSC), which dispatched a volunteer to assess the situation. And the news was good.
“We did not need to pick up the animal, it was healthy and in very good body condition. It was just resting on the beach, which is a normal behavior,” said Michele Pagel, education and volunteer coordinator with the Brigantine-based center. “The seal was gone by this morning, likely returning to the ocean to feed.”
In the video below, photographer Nancy Orlowski captures the seal taking a walk on the Belmar beach, heading toward the boardwalk.
The harp seal’s visit to the Belmar beachfront came two weeks after an injured and underweight gray seal pup came ashore and is now recuperating at MMSC.
The center continues to stress to the public the importance of staying away from seals that come ashore, which is part of their routine during the early spring along the Jersey Shore.
“It’s very important for seals to be able to haul out on land to rest, and the presence of people causes stress and can force the seal to return to the water before they are ready,” Pagel said.
“Seals are federally protected animals, and people (and dogs) should stay at least 150 feet away from a seal on the beach,” she said. “They do have very sharp teeth and powerful jaws, and will bite a person or dog if they feel threatened."
To report a seal sighting, call the Marine Mammal Stranding Center on its 24-hour hotline at 609-266-0538.
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