Wildlife experts have issued a warning after a seal encounter was caught on camera in Marshfield, Massachusetts.
The warning comes after a dog and a seal eyeballed each other on Burkes Beach before the dog made contact with the seal’s rear flippers.
These encounters can be stressful for the seals, and dangerous for them, as well as for beachgoers and pets.
“When they kind of put their heads up like that he’s letting them know I’m here, you’re much too close to me and I feel threatened by that,” said Nicole Hunter with the New England Aquarium who reviewed video of the incident.
Kelly Zaid, who recorded the video, says the seal suddenly moved out of the water onto the beach near several beachgoers.
“I don’t speak seal obviously but it looked pretty scared and tired,” said Zaid. “It just came waddling over and plopped down and just laid there.”
Hunter, a rescue biologist, says it was a Harp seal, about a year old, and likely just needed rest or was waiting for its mother.
“They can bite, they do have teeth, and they also are mammals and they have germs,” said Hunter. “They can pass some of these germs both to pets and eventually to people.”
Seals are federally protected and people are supposed to stay 150 feet away.
“You can see on the video the seal is probably very stressed out,” said Hunter. “It’s reacting to the animal and probably the person who’s taking the video being much too close.”
Zaid, who does not own the dog seen in the video, says all of the beachgoers moved on within a couple of minutes.
“We all walked away and gave the entire Burkes Beach area,” said Zaid. “We yielded to the seal so he or she could be by itself...and go back to doing whatever seals do.”