The Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute would like to remind people that seals are once again in their midst. Seals are present along Delaware beaches and other waterways from December through April, and it is common at this time of year to see seals on beaches, docks, and other locations where they can get out of the water to rest.
Delaware experiences four different species of seals, all of which make their way to this area from the pupping colonies in the north. Oftentimes these animals are healthy, but at other times they may be suffering from illness or injury, and are in need of veterinary care. MERR is Delaware’s official marine mammal and sea turtle stranding response organization, and will assess the seal’s condition to determine the best course of treatment. In the case of a healthy animal, MERR will station volunteers at the site to monitor the seal and to help provide information to beachgoers. In the case of an ill or injured seal, MERR will perform a rescue and provide subsequent veterinary treatment.
Someone who encounters a seal should contact MERR as soon as possible by calling the 24-hour reporting hotline, 302-228-5029. Keep a mandatory distance of 150 feet from the animal so as not to disturb it, and always keep pets on a leash and at a safe distance. Remember, seals are wild animals and can bite if they feel threatened. Do not touch a seal or approach too closely. The goal is to help the seal to rest undisturbed so it can return to the water of its own accord.
For more information, go to www.merrinstitute.org.