If you see a seal on the beach, call the Seacoast Science Center Marine Mammal Rescue hotline at 603-997-9448
Rye, NH — Harbor seals bear their young during the months of May and June. As a result, the chance of seeing seals on our beaches, more specifically seal pups, increases. If you see a seal on the beach, it is important to keep back and call the Seacoast Science Center Marine Mammal Rescue (MMR) hotline at 603-997-9448 for any marine mammal hauled out on the shore in New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts (including Essex, MA north), alive or dead.
“It is vital that we do not interrupt the important bond being formed between a mother seal and her pup during this time,” said MMR Manager Ashley Stokes. “The mother seal may leave her pup on the beach while she is off feeding and it is critical that we give the pup space so the mother will return to it.”
Seals are only semi-aquatic, meaning that it’s normal for them to spend time hauled out on land. But there are times when a marine mammal comes up on shore because it is sick or injured. “We recover, gather data on, and record photos of deceased animals to monitor causes of mortalities (natural cause or human interaction) that could pose health risks to marine mammal populations, people or pets. This is why it is important that beachgoers call our hotline as soon as an animal is spotted.”
What to do if you spot a marine mammal on shore:
- Call the Seacoast Science Center’s 24-hour Marine Mammal Rescue hotline at 603-997-9448
- Report the exact location, if it’s live or dead, and details about it’s size, coloring, and behavior
- Always maintain a safe distance (at least 150 feet) from the animal to avoid injury to you or the animal.
In 2017, the Seacoast Science Center’s MMR team responded to 11 marine mammal cases (68 live and 43 deceased). These include 102 pinnepeds (seals) and 9 cetaceans (porpoises, dolphins, whales). The breakdown of species is as follows: 87 harbor seals, 8 gray seals, 5 harp seals, 2 unknown seal species, 4 harbor porpoise, 1 common dolphin, 1 Atlantic white-sided dolphin, and 3 minke whales.
The Seacoast Science Center must raise funds to operate the Marine Mammal Rescue program and be equipped to respond to not only a predicted average of cases, but also emergency situations, such as a whale stranding or an unusual marine mammal mortality event. The Center relies on support from local businesses and community members to meet their operating budget.
For more information on Seacoast Science Center’s Marine Mammal Rescue program and to donate, click here.
Keep up to date with the Team’s work on MMR’s Facebook page and learn more about New Hampshire’s response and rescue effort at the Center’s Marine Mammal Rescue exhibit.