Stay away from resting seals on Jersey Shore beaches, experts warn

     A baby grey seal. Image courtesy of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center.

    A baby grey seal. Image courtesy of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center.

    A Jersey Shore marine mammal organization is warning the public to keep distance from the recent arrivals at area beaches: resting seals. 

    The Brigantine-based Marine Mammal Stranding Center (MMSC) requests that the public stay 50 yards away from the seals, which look cute but will deliver a sharp bite if scared.

    Harbor, grey, and harp seals are typical winter visitors at the Jersey Shore as they swim down from the New England region. 

    The marine mammals will warn anyone who gets too close with a “growl or snort,” or by “scratching with a flipper,” the release says, adding that the next defense is to bite “if they cannot get away fast enough.”

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    While the seals may look cold while shivering on the beach, that’s just part of their fur drying mechanism.

    According to the release, seals have thick blubber layers under their skin, and they lay on their side and rock back and forth to get comfortable. The seals also put their front and rear flippers in the air to stretch and warm themselves. 

    “These animals are born in zero degree weather and they’re equipped for survival on their own,” the release says, adding that they don’t need “food, water, blankets, hugs, or any human contact.”

    The center is currently caring a young underweight seal with breathing issues that came ashore late last month on Long Beach Island. You can follow her progress on the MMSC Facebook page.

    Anyone who spots a seal should call MMSC at 609-266-0538. They’ll dispatch a technician to check on the blubbery visitor. 

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal