In late winter and early spring resident gray and harbor seals give birth. As a result, chances of encountering a mother and pup or a lone pup on a local beach increase. NOAA Fisheries reminds the public to respect wildlife by maintaining a safe distance of at least 150 feet from seals.

“A mother seal may just be off feeding, when someone comes across a seal pup on the beach,” said Mendy Garrron, marine mammal stranding program coordinator, NOAA Fisheries. “The best thing you can do if you want to help is keep away from the animal and keep your pets away from it, so the mother has a chance to return.”

There are times when an individual marine mammal, like a seal, dolphin or a whale comes up on shore because it is sick or injured. There are also cases, when large numbers of marine mammals strand due to an outbreak of disease or if affected by changes in the environment like a harmful algal bloom.

To report a stranding, please call your local Marine Mammal Stranding Network Member or the NOAA Fisheries Northeast Regional 24-hour hotline 866-755-NOAA (6622). If you see someone harassing a marine mammal, please contact the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement at 800-853-1964.

Always maintain a safe distance, at least 150 feet, from the animal to avoid injury to yourself or injury to the animal.

NOAA Fisheries is the federal agency responsible for monitoring marine mammal populations in the United States. In this region, NOAA Fisheries relies on a team of dedicated, trained personnel from Maine to Virginia to assist the agency in carrying out its mission.

Visit www.noaa.gov or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/noaa for more information.