The Seacoast Science Center is widely known for on-site tide-pooling field trips but naturalists from the Center also bring educational programs out into the community. Recently, SSC Marine Mammal Rescue team leader Ashley Stokes visited St. Michael Parish School in Lowell, MA and presented information about marine mammals to students in grades 2 and 4.
Students learned about the four species of seals found in New Hampshire and Northern Massachusetts – harbor, harp, gray and hooded – and the seasons they are likely to be spotted on our shores. Ashley also explained how it is normal for seals to haul out of the water and relax on beaches because seals are semi-aquatic, spending 60% of their lives in the water and 40% on land. If students ever encounter seals in or out of the water, Ashley reminded them to keep their distance. Not only are seals strong and aggressive, but they are one of the marine mammal species protected by the Federal government, so people should not approach or make contact with them.
Ashley shared the phone number of the SSC Marine Mammal Rescue hotline that people should always call if they see a live or dead marine mammal on shore: 603-997-9448. This hotline is staffed 24 hours a day and team members respond to each sighting to assess the situation and decide what course of action might be best. If a seal looks healthy and may just be resting, the team will keep people away and monitor its movement; if a seal looks like it needs medical attention, the team will do an assessment and possibly transport it to a rehabilitation facility. The team also responds to dead marine mammals and will do an exam and possibly a necropsy to try and learn more about why that animal died. Records are kept on all animals the team responds to and are filed with a national data bank to get a clearer picture of what is happening with each species.
If you would like to book a visit from the SSC Marine Mammal Rescue team or other SSC naturalists, please visit our School and Groups page at our website for full information.