Injured Seal Found on Beach 106th

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Story and Photo By Katie McFadden

 

Last week, we had a whale, and this week yet another sea creature was found on our beaches. On Tuesday, April 11, a young gray seal decided to pay Rockaway a visit, or perhaps to recover. Unfortunately, the animal appeared to have been attacked by something, leaving large wounds on the lower half of its body.

On Tuesday afternoon, the young creature came out of the water to take a break on Beach 106th Street. A seal visiting our beaches had become a yearly occurrence in the spring. Seals will often relax on rocks or a beach to enjoy some time in the sun. However, the animal on Tuesday had some deep wounds, which caused alarm among those who came across it. Some believed the wounds were caused by a predator, like a shark, or a boat.

Witnesses immediately called the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation out in Long Island, the go-to rescue organization for local injured sea mammals. Officers from the 100 Precinct also responded to keep crowds away from the animal, as to not cause further stress. Several further calls were made to Riverheard from community members, who were concerned that nothing was being done quick enough to help the animal. Riverhead said they were overwhelmed with calls on Tuesday, as they had other reported strandings along Long Island. The volunteer organization reassured callers that they were aware of Rockaway’s seal and would respond if necessary, by Wednesday morning.

“Thank you to those who have reported the seal located in Rockaway! Based on the reports, videos, and the many photos we have received, our team has decided to monitor this animal for 24 hours. While it does have a couple of small wounds, the seal is alert and exhibiting normal behaviors.
If the seal is still in the area in the morning our Rescue Team will respond to reassess the animal's condition,” The Riverhead Foundation posted to its Facebook page.

Some residents were concerned that something must be done to help the seal, with some suggesting pouring water on it, feeding it, or even picking it up and bringing it to Riverhead themselves. All of these suggestions are incorrect and should not be followed. According to the Riverhead Foundation, the best thing to do if you come across a seal on the beach, is to keep your distance. They advise to stay at least 50 yards away. Seals can be aggressive and can bite or use their sharp claws to scratch. There is also a risk that they’re carrying a disease. Riverhead also said it is a common behavior for a seal to be on the beach, and it is referred to as “hauling out.” It is done for several reasons, including to rest, to warm themselves, or to avoid predators. If water is poured on an animal or forced to return to the water, it may become hypothermic. They may also haul out due to injury, and Riverhead advises people to stay away so the animal does not return to the water before a Rescue Team responds. If you see an animal on the beach, besides staying clear, the best thing to do is to call the NY State Stranding Hotline at 631-369-9829.

On Wednesday afternoon, Riverhead said, "Our Rescue Team responded to a gray seal located in Rockaway this morning. The seal was brought back to our hospital facility where a full physical was conducted and it is currently resting in one of our rehabilitation tanks."

Visit www.riverheadfoundation.org to donate and help the Riverhead Foundation's future rescue efforts.

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