It’s Seal Season! What to Do if You See a Seal on the Beach

Mattress Peddlers

Just resting / Image courtesy MERR

t’s seal season on Delmarva – and beachgoers and boaters remember to keep your distance. Officials at the Marine Education, Research & Rehabilitation Institute say 4 species of seal visit our waterways during the winter – and can be seen resting and sunning on the rocks, docks, beaches and other areas. Keep a minimum 150 feet from the animal – and keep dogs on a leash. If you see a seal – do not approach it – it is a wild animal – and can bite if threatened – and can also transmit disease.

Additional information from MERR: It is normal for seals to haul out of the water to rest. If you see a seal, please keep a minimum distance of 150 feet from the animal, and keep dogs on a leash so that the seal
can rest undisturbed. Boaters must maintain a distance of 300’ from seals in the water. Please do not approach the seal or attempt to feed it or otherwise interact with the animal. This action will only cause undue stress to the seal and may force it to go back into the water before it is ready.

The best thing to do for the seal is to keep a distance and report sightings to MERR at the 24-hour stranding reporting hotline at (302) 228-5029. The marine mammal specialists from MERR will evaluate the seal for any signs of injury or illness, and will provide rescue if needed. In the case of a healthy
resting seal, MERR will set up a watch throughout the day to help the seal to rest undisturbed, while also providing information to beachgoers.

Reports from the public are very useful in helping to document the presence of seals in Delaware waters, and in helping the MERR stranding team to provide rescue for those seals that need veterinary treatment. For more information, please visit the MERR website at
Thank you for helping us to keep seals safe!