On Tuesday our Stranding Team relocated two Harp seals from beaches that were becoming busy with people as they tried to rest. Both seals were brought into the MMSC for an assessment. The 44lb female and 64lb male were found to be healthy and in good body condition, with only a few superficial abrasions. Before being released to a more secluded beach to rest undisturbed, our Stranding Team marked them both with a non-toxic livestock marker (female #3, male #4). This temporary marking will allow our team to easily identify these seals should they be spotted again in the next few weeks before the pigment fades.
Harp seals are one of our more fascinating winter visitors. This species is most commonly found dwelling on the ice in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, but have been known to travel as far south as Virginia in the winter. They move on land differently than other seals, hooking their front flippers into the substrate, as can be seen in this video. They use their flipper nails to gain better traction on the ice. When they move on our sandy beaches, they create a very distinct track in the sand, with deep alternating flipper prints on either side of the line left by their belly as they scoot along towards the water.