IFAW's Stranding Network Monitoring Spring Seal Pup
From our own local Cape Cod waters...this post below is taken from the International Fund for Animal Welfare press
release discussing the IFAW Cape Cod Stranding Network's monitoring of a seal pup born this spring...
Brewster, MA- Along with the beautiful spring weather this week came an early spring surprise: a young harbor seal pup resting on a bayside beach in Brewster. Harbor seals usually give birth to their young mid-May thru June on the rocky coast of Maine. Occasionally, newborn harbor seal pups are seen on the beaches of Cape Cod, but for the most part on the Cape, we see slightly older animals during the summer months that are weaned and independent of their mothers. This animal, however, was only a few days old, with a freshly shed umbilical cord and a fuzzy white coat of fur called a “lanugo” coat that is usually shed before birth.
When staff and volunteers from the Cape Cod Stranding Network, a
project of IFAW responded to the call, they found that the seal looked
well-fed and hydrated, indicating that his mother had not been gone for
a long period of time. Harbor seal mothers frequently leave their pups
on the beach while they head off to sea to feed during the nursing
period which lasts only 4-6 weeks. Unfortunately, during these foraging
trips, pups found onshore alone are often mistaken for stranded
animals. The best chance these young pups have for survival is to be
reunited with their mothers. Seal mothers can be deterred from
returning to the beach where their pup is resting if there are people
or animals on the beach near their pup.
For now, members of the Cape Cod Stranding Network will continue to
monitor this young seal to see if his mother comes back over the next
few days. If his mother does not return, the stranding network will
most likely collect the animal and transfer it to a rehabilitation
center so that it can get the vital nutrition it needs. The best thing
to do if you find a resting seal pup on the beach is to keep your
distance and report it to the Stranding Network’s 24-HR Emergency
If you find a seal pup or any seal on the beach remember the following points:
1.) SEALS ARE SEMI-AQUATIC. This means that they spend part of their
lives in the water and part on land. It is normal for them to rest on
the beach, and it is ok for them to be dry. Please do not try to feed
them or handle them in any way.
2.) IT IS OK FOR THEM TO BE ALONE. Seal mothers often leave their
pups on the beach while they forage for food. Mothers will return to
their pups once they have finished feeding.
3.) KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. Seals are wild animals and can bite, so keep
people and pets at a safe distance! Interactions with people will also
cause stress to these animals and may impact their ability to survive.
Federal guidelines state that bystanders should stay 150 feet away from
resting seals. Keeping people and pets away from resting seal pups will
enable mothers to return to nurse their young.
4.) CALL AN APPROPRIATE OFFICIAL. On Cape Cod and southeastern MA,
you can call the Cape Cod Stranding Network hotline (508) 743- 9548. In
other regions, call your local police department and ask them to report
it to the stranding responders in your area.