Less than a week into 2015, a Jersey Shore marine mammal rehabilitation center has its first guest of the year.
The newest resident at the Marine Mammal Stranding Center (MMSC), a Brigantine-based nonprofit organization, is a 37.4 pound, 36.5 inch male harbor seal pup that recently stranded in Point Pleasant Beach, according to a tweet from the center.
The pup is suffering from a respiratory infection and shark bite, the tweet said.
Jerry Meaney, a MMSC volunteer and administrator of the popular Facebook page Barnegat Bay Island, NJ, found that seal — who he said locals named “Cupcake” — resting on the beach during his daily walk on Monday.
After contacting MMSC and monitoring the seal’s condition, he said the he alerted the center this morning after the seal appeared to be weakening. A technician responded, and Meaney helped the staffer place the seal in a truck.
“They’ll care for it and hopefully be able to release it in time,” he said. “I’ve volunteered with them for several years, and I can tell you that while it is a very interesting thing to work with seals and other sea life, it is very dangerous.”
Meaney said that curious beachgoers should stay away from any resting seals and prevent dogs from approaching.
“As cute as this seal is, it could take a good chunk of your arm if given the chance,” he said. “I saw a man three to four feet away from the seal taking a picture with his cell phone, and he had his golden retriever 15 feet away. This is a bad situation.”
Seals are common visitors to the Jersey Shore during the winter, according to National Park Service.
“Seals have a thick blubber layer which, combined with a fur coat, protects them in frigid climates,” the service notes, adding that they “spend most of their lives in the water but come on land to give birth, raise their young and to molt.”