Seal deemed too friendly heading to Detroit This land-loving seal has come ashore repeatedly in New York and New Jersey since March (AP photos)
Seal deemed too friendly heading to Detroit
Lexile

A seal with a fondness for New Jersey beaches, and the food-sharing fishermen and beachgoers that come with them, is headed for Detroit after becoming a little too friendly with the locals.

Since March, the 100-pound female gray seal had stopped on Long Island, New York, and New Jersey beaches at Sandy Hook, Island Beach State Park, Sea Isle City and Longport.

Each time, animal rescue groups shooed it back into the water or treated it for illness or injury. But the seal kept coming back.

When people started petting it on a beach in Longport on Sept. 5, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center removed it from the ocean permanently because it had become too acclimated to humans.

"We would see it in Sea Isle City, swimming among the bathers, not bothering anybody, but clearly too used to humans being around," said Bob Schoelkopf, director of the stranding center.  "In Longport, it came ashore and kids went up and started petting it. That's what sealed its fate."

The animal's odyssey began on March 9 when Long Island's Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research responded to a report of a young seal with a swollen flipper. The animal was rehabilitated at the center for just over three months and released on June 14.

On July 10, New Jersey's Marine Mammal Stranding Center received a call about a seal on the beach with a fishing hook lodged in its mouth. A technician from the center removed the hook. Because the animal had no other obvious injuries or illnesses, it was released and went back into the water.

But two days later, the seal was back ashore again, this time in Sea Isle City, where a large crowd gathered, causing the animal to become anxious and stressed. The stranding center picked it up and brought it to its Brigantine facility, where personnel noticed the animal had a cough, and put it on antibiotics.

When the cough disappeared and blood tests showed the seal had no illness, it was released at Sandy Hook on Aug. 18, having gained 21 pounds at the rescue center.

"Throughout the next few weeks, there were dozens of reports of our seal swimming in close proximity to bathers in the surf," Schoelkopf said. "We got calls from people saying they had fed it."

After deciding the seal was too used to humans to ever return to the ocean, the stranding center notified federal wildlife officials, who found a home for it at the Detroit Zoo.

The zoo will have a contest to name it.

Critical thinking challenge: Why would it be dangerous to leave a seal too acclimated to humans free in the wild?

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COMMENTS (34)
  • cp2000nirvana
    11/19/2014 - 08:40 a.m.

    I think when the seal got pet by the children it was a huge sign but what is the danger of that obviously there are some but there not life threatening

  • 1GracieH
    11/19/2014 - 12:44 p.m.

    A seal gets taken away to Detroit for getting "too close" with people. Long Island, New York, and New Jersey beaches at Sandy Hook, Island Beach State Park, Sea Isle City and Longport were some of the places that she decided to visit. People started petting the seal on the Longport beach on September 5, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center took her from the ocean permanently because it had become too close and comfortable with people. Later they found another seal on shore with a hook caught in its mouth. 2 days after the close call, the seal came back on shore in Sea Isle City, and the stranding center grabbed it and took it to its Brigantine facility and they figured out that she had a cough and so she got antibiotics. After recovery, on August 18th the seal was given to Sandy Hook and gained 21 pounds from being at the facility. Unfortunately later on when the seal got close to people, they started feeding it again. After being around humans for so long, the federal wildlife officials found a zoo to put her in and the zoo is going to have a contest to see what they should name the seal. I think that is so cool and hopefully the seal wont "swim off" again.

  • 1seanB
    11/19/2014 - 01:06 p.m.

    I didn't think that where would ever be a seal like this one wandering along shore. This seal seems pretty cool because it is so nice. Of course i would send it to the zoo and to be looked at by people. I think that would be cool. I wonder what the seals name is going to be when they have the contest for the name. But why did they send it to Detroit? I thought they should have sent it to a bigger city for a lot of people could see the seal and its incredible story. I wonder what its future will be like?

  • ratiaira
    11/19/2014 - 01:40 p.m.

    i think that,that is why people are not supposed to be feeding animals because of coarse they love the attention and want the food obviously they are going to keep coming back for more and more food than they had before

  • AlexisKrise
    11/19/2014 - 01:46 p.m.

    I would like to know how it was 'too friendly'. At least it wasn't attempting to attack the swimmers! It's wrong to tell someone or something that they aren't allowed to be somewhere simply because they are friendly. The sea is that poor creature's home, and the people who took it to the zoo are deeming it to a life of misery, only being allowed to swim in a tiny enclosed area of water. It's wrong to take an animal away from it's dome just because we say so. What ever happened to 'leave it in it's natural habitat'??

  • CharismaM
    11/19/2014 - 01:57 p.m.

    I think that it was a great idea to move it to the zoo. It probably would have been dangerous to send the seal back to the ocean. Now the seal can enjoy having human company without the dangers of the ocean.

  • jessea-Bea
    11/19/2014 - 02:34 p.m.

    This article is really interesting. I can understand that it could be harmful to the seal to be to familiar to humans. If it gets to used to humans feeding it, it will never hunt.

  • WAustin-Sti
    11/19/2014 - 02:42 p.m.

    I was surprised that the seal came back that many times. It came back because people kept feeding it and it was used to being by people.It would be cool to swim with a seal.

  • 5AdelleD
    11/19/2014 - 09:05 p.m.

    I am responding to the critical thinking question. The animal maybe couldn't fight for food for themselves. It would be dangerous because it might carry a disease. The seal could get too close to humans and something bad could happen. Also people might start thinking every seal is like that.

  • sl2000soccer
    11/20/2014 - 08:39 a.m.

    It would be dangerous to leave a seal too accumulated to humans free in the wild because it is more likely to get killed and hurt. If humans treat it badly, it can get really hurt and bad stuff can happen to it. Also, if a predator comes and tries to eat it, it might think it is friendly, and get killed.

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