MERR Institute reminds public about seals on beaches

LEWES — The MERR Institute reminds the public to watch for seals present along Delaware beaches and other waterways through April.

It is common at this time of the year to see seals on area beaches, docks, and other locations where they can get out of the water to rest.

Delaware sees 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, officials said.

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.

If someone encounters a seal, contact MERR as soon as possible at 228-5029.

Officials recommend the public 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. 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, visit MERR’s website at www.merrinstitute.org.

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