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Seal makes a splash on North Carolina coast

Posted May 23, 2013
Updated May 24, 2013

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— The rare sight of a gray seal along the North Carolina coast is making quite a splash with beach-goers and prompting officials to issue a warning to those who may want to approach the animal.

The seal was first seen May 16 on the north end of Wrightsville Beach and has moved to Carolina Beach, then Kure Beach.

“This is the furthest south sighting we have had of this species in North Carolina,” said Ann Pabst, a marine biology professor with the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

She said the seal is spending time on land while it molts, or replaces its fur coat.

“This seal is a rare visitor to our waters, and it is apparently going to enjoy the holiday weekend with us,” Pabst said. “It has chosen our beaches for its molting rest, and we need to respect its needs for space.”

Seals are federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, so it is against the law for people to approach them. That may be a tough call for some because the seal seems to be friendly and unafraid of people, Pabst said.

seal Viewer video: Seal on Kure Beach

In an effort to counter potential harm to the seal, officials are distributing fliers that warn people to stay 50 yards away from the seal, not to feed it or get between it and the water. The flier also warns people to keep their children and pets away from the seal.

The flier urges people to call 911 if they observe violations.

"This individual seems to be particularly friendly and has even been described as approaching people," Pabst said. "It is our responsibility to move away from the seal if this happens."

Kure Beach resident Bryan Jones saw the seal Thursday resting underneath a fishing pier.

"It was just interesting," he said. "I was working up at Jack Mackerel's this morning and...they called me and told me to come down to look at it."

27 Comments

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  • bdmiller10 May 24, 6:45 p.m.

    Thanks Pepe! Sunday is going to be a great day!

    -well played "HAND" pun! Poor Buster.

  • mmtlash May 24, 5:47 p.m.

    boojie boojie boo!

  • Pepe Silvia May 24, 9:28 a.m.

    "I think it was wearing a yellow bow-tie." - bdmiller10

    Gotta HAND it to you, that was a good one!

    Loose seal! LOOSE SEAL!

  • halfpint1552 May 24, 8:51 a.m.

    My friend took a picture of it when she saw it this week. I just thought she was at a beach outside of NC...guess I was wrong!

  • GravyPig May 24, 8:34 a.m.

    "like cockroaches up and down california coast"

    Not likely. I'm sure they have their own Sea Lions and Seals but the Grey seal does not live in the Pacific region.

  • frosty May 23, 6:20 p.m.

    Actually a Sea Lion.

  • frosty May 23, 6:18 p.m.

    The NAVY people who worked with seals trained for harbor protection said to think of them as dobermans with flippers.

    A few are fine but if they take over like in some places on the west coast, good by beach access. But then if the Great White Sharks show up to feed on them, who would want to get into the water anyway.

  • bdmiller10 May 23, 5:55 p.m.

    I think it was wearing a yellow bow-tie.

  • mwjrnc May 23, 5:31 p.m.

    He's cute alright, but if he opens his mouth, you might think you are looking at a pit bull, or German Shepard. He might look friendly, but he's still a wild animal, and he could, and probably would, do a number on you if he felt the least bit threatened or antagonized.

  • BlahBlahBlahBlahBlah May 23, 5:18 p.m.

    Maybe it is someone's pet seal or a marine zoo seal if it gets up close and friendly...

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