While walking on Field No. 5 at Jones Beach last month, Paul Mila of Carle Place spotted this harbor seal. It had, per Mila, “hauled out” to get some sun.
Making sure that the seal wasn’t in distress, Mila contacted the New York Marine Rescue Center at the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead and sent photos.
“They knew about this seal,” he related. “Said it looked OK: fat, so not undernourished, and had some small cuts that didn’t look serious or infected.”
He added, “It would have been more stressful to move it, and it probably wanted to rest out of the water and get some sun. They called the park rangers, but they never showed up by the time I left.”
An experienced scuba diver/photographer with a number of books to his credit, Mila is familiar with marine life. He has written a series of children’s books starring the great sea turtles. He looks forward to traveling to Cozumel, Mexico when it’s safe. He maintains a second home there.
Harbor seals are federally protected and according to a government website are among the most common marine mammals on both coasts. They can measure up to 6 feet and weigh close to 300 pounds. The website narrative stated, “They haul out to regulate their body temperature, molt, interact with other seals, give birth, and raise their pups. They also haul out in groups to avoid predators and spend less time being watchful for predators than those that haul out alone. Harbor seal pelvic bones are fused, preventing them from moving their hind flippers under their pelvis to walk on land. Instead, they move by undulating in a caterpillar-like motion. This does not mean they are injured.”
According to its website, the Riverhead-based rescue center is the state’s “only authorized stranding and research facility. The not-for-profit organization is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of seals, sea turtles, whales, dolphins, and porpoises critically endangered species facing the real threat of extinction.”
It has a 24-hour stranding hotline at 631-369-9829 to report a sick or stranded marine mammal or sea turtle. Visit nymarinerescue.org to learn more.