Seal Pups Arrive on Shore

BOSTON – Officials with the New England Aquarium are reminding beach combers to not approach newly weaned seal pubs as they rest on shore, saying it is stressful for the animals. In a statement, the Aquarium described the situation over the weekend and offered tips on what to do if you encounter a seal. 

Over the weekend, a heavy surf brought many young seals to shore to rest where they encountered lots of people who were out walking beaches in the sunny, 50 plus degree weather.

Officials said young seals were too often disturbed by beach walkers who were much too close and consequently stressing out these vulnerable young animals, which desperately need their rest.

In the late winter along the Massachusetts coast, there are thousands of newly weaned, grey seal pups as well as yearling harp seals visiting for the winter from Canada. Given their youth and inexperience, they often haul out on popular beaches or on spots that have had little human traffic most of the winter.

Federal law requires people to stay more than 150 feet from a resting seal –that is half of the distance of a football field.

Misuse of social media has made life much more difficult for resting, young seals. When discovered, their locations are often posted to social media websites drawing many more people to the scene, often resulting in crowds of people gathered within a few feet of a very frightened seal pup. Selfie culture has resulted in people taking pictures which are way too close to the animal.

Adult seals are experienced and rarely stay in high traffic locations, but young animals do not yet know better. They are already struggling to survive and coming too close compromises their health by skyrocketing their stress hormones and denying them desperately needed rest.

Also seals are wild animals that can bite and transmit diseases, which are less familiar to human immune systems.


1. Stay at least 150 feet from the seal.

2. Call the New England Aquarium’s Marine Animal Hotline at 617-973-5247.

3. Keep the area quiet.

4. Keep all dogs away from the seal.

5. Take notes on the exact location, size, behavior and whether the seals appear injured.


1. Seals are on land for a reason – do not touch them or try to put them back in the water. They will bite.

2. Seals do not need to be wet all of the time – do not pour water on them.

3. Human food can be harmful to seals – do not feed them.

4. Some seals shiver while drying – do not cover seals with blankets or towels in an attempt to keep them warm.

 5. Seals need their rest – do not let others harass seals by poking them, throwing objects at them or making loud

    noises in an attempt to make them move.

Seals are protected under a federal law called the Marine Mammal Protection Act. People caught harassing or disturbing seals are subject to a large fine.


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