We are excited to have 63 volunteers trained for this year's Seal Steward program. Although we are in our sixth year of this outreach program, this season's first haul out presented many challenges, including multiple dangerous human interactions - from petting, to allowing dogs to interact with the seal, to folks actually picking up the seal and tossing it into the water! Thankfully, no one was bitten by this stressed and exhausted animal, likely due to a serious jaw injury. Unfortunately, the seal kept hauling out and eventually washed up deceased.
There were witnesses that saw the seal several times and were upset that it was not taken into rehab due to the injury. However, the seal was still very active and by the time first responders arrived at the scene to assess the animal, it had already retreated into the water due to human interaction.
This seal was safely observed and photographed by
Seals are federally protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Under this law it is illegal to harass, harm, or disturb a seal's natural behaviors. If a seal lifts its head to look at you, you are already too close. Should you spot a hauled-out seal, stay at least 150 feet away and call the stranding hotline at
410-373-0083 or the Ocean City Police Department at
These agencies reach out to the Seal Steward program so stewards can keep a watchful eye on a resting seal. This protects not only the seal, but also those beach and dog walkers that are unaware that our winter visitors bite and can carry some contagious viruses.