Much of the region’s attention this winter and spring has been focused on the unusual number of whales and dolphins that have met their demise in local waters. But another species of marine mammals, more commonly seen taking a breather on Jersey Shore beaches during the winter, often have better outcomes when found locally – thanks largely to an organization that released a number of seals back into the wild this week.
The group consisted, over two releases, of about a dozen seals, including three which were found on the beaches in Seaside Heights and Seaside Park, as well as a few other locals towns, including Surf City. These seals – usually harbor or grey seals – naturally come ashore each winter during their stay in the chilly waters off New Jersey, but generally are in good health, heading to the beach for the same reason we all do: to take a rest. Sometimes, however, they’re sick. They may have had a negative encounter with fishing line, been targeted by a predator, or caught a virus or infection of some sort. Thanks to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center and its small army of volunteers and professional handlers based out of Brigantine, the vast majority of these seals are able to be released back into the wild after being rehabilitated.
What’s even better is that, apparently, they make friends along the way – both human and some fellow seals who also found themselves in need of a helping hand.
The seals released this week include:
- Ocean City (#23-050),
- Surf City (#23-052),
- Seaside Park (#23-053),
- Sandy Hook (#23-054),
- Sea Isle City (#23-057)
- Seaside Park (#23-058)
But it was two other seals who had, well, “a moment” as they returned.
A female grey seal #23-038 (found in Seaside Heights) appeared to wait for male grey seal #23-041 (found in Loveladies, LBI) to join her in the water.
“Thank you to all of our amazing supporters for making moments like this possible for these animals!” the stranding center said in social media posts following its broadcast of the seals returning live over Facebook.
The photos posted by the stranding center were credited to Michael McKenna, whose incredible coastal photography work can be found here.
We’ve frequently encouraged our readers who care about marine mammals at the Jersey Shore to consider supporting the MMSC, with more information available on the group’s website.