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Experts Warn NH Beachgoers To Leave Seal Pups Alone

By Michael Rosenfield, WBZ-TV
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RYE, NH (CBS) – Video has emerged of a beachgoer nudging a seal on Rye Beach back into the water.

“We’re watching him return to the wild,” a woman can be heard in the YouTube post. “I hope you find your parents.”

The crowd gathered near the seal likely did not realize they were causing problems. In fact the man in the video was endangering the seal.

“He was doing something he thought was well meaning,” said Tony LaCasse of the New England Aquarium. “But he had no understanding of the biology of what was going on.”

The seal was right where he was supposed to be.

“Most of the time when you see a little seal pup on the beach, it’s resting and its mother is out there fishing, getting food,” said Wendy Lull, president of the Seacoast Science Center in Rye.

The mother then returns to shore to nurse the pup. It is common this time of year.

Rye Beach resident Elizabeth Morin saw the commotion as she walked by.

“So many people were coming up to it, touching it,” said Morin.

Wildlife experts say there have been at least three pups threatened by human interaction this season.

One has died.

Experts say humans can cause too much stress on the seals or even keep their mothers from returning to shore.

“If we are intervening and are present on the shore, and the mom looks back, sees us out here, she will not retrieve her,” said Katie Pugliares, senior biologist with the New England Aquarium.

The seal in the video miraculously survived, even though it was eventually picked up by a woman and driven to the Seacoast Science Center.

It has since been brought to the University of New England Marine Rehabilitation Center where it is currently being treated.

Experts are urging people to stay away from the seals. The law says people must be 150 feet away.

The man in the video and anyone else caught getting too close could face federal charges.

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