RIVIÈRE-DU-LOUP, QUÉBEC--(Marketwired - May 9, 2014) - With the arrival of the warmer weather more and more people are strolling along the shores of the St. Lawrence. During such an outing it is altogether possible that they may happen upon a young seal lying on a beach. A person who is unfamiliar with seals may find this situation alarming and could be moved to take action. It should be noted that, in most cases, the animal will be in good health and the situation perfectly normal; any intervention may actually be fatal for the young seal!
Harbour seals give birth in May and June. Consequently, during this period beached or free-swimming seal pups can be heard crying out. They are calling for their mothers that have either left them alone temporarily, in order to fish for food offshore (during the nursing period, that lasts from May to early July), or permanently (after weaning takes place, from mid-June to late July). Seal pups spend a lot of time resting out of the water, often on beaches, to conserve energy for growth. Most are unaware of danger and do not flee at the approach of humans.
If you see a young seal on the shore maintain your distance, keep domestic animals away and, most importantly, do not touch or manipulate the pup. If it has not yet been weaned, its mother is probably in the water nearby, waiting for high tide in order to recover her offspring. Human presence or the scent of a human on the small animal could incite its mother to permanently abandon it. In this case, the pup would be condemned to death. Weaned seals go through a normal adaptation period during which time they search out their mothers. They must learn to live on their own as wild animals; any human presence could prove harmful. Keep in mind that seals are wild, they can bite and there is the possibility of the transmission of infectious diseases.
If, on the other hand, you see a seal that remains in a given area on a beach near humans without returning to the water at high tide, it could be in trouble. In a case like this, contact the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network by dialling, toll-free, 1-877-7BALEINE (1-877-722-5346).
The Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network is made up of a dozen private and governmental organizations. It has been mandated to organize, coordinate and implement measures to reduce the accidental death of marine mammals, help animals in trouble and gather information in cases of beached or drifting carcasses in waters bordering the province of Quebec.
The Network is counting on people who live along, or navigate on, the St. Lawrence to rapidly report all cases of marine mammals either in trouble or dead to 1-877-7BALEINE (1-877-722-5346). Thank you for your precious collaboration!