Seal deemed too friendly heading to Detroit
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: 1260L

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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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  • 8chaseb
    11/20/2014 - 10:40 a.m.

    This was very interesting, if I were that seal I would be friendly to because the humans just would feed me. I wouldn't have to work to get food like in the ocean. Then I would also get a lot of attention.

  • LAvery-Sti
    11/20/2014 - 10:58 a.m.

    I think that is this really cool, why wouldn't you want a pet to be nice. On the other hand it is scary because what if the animal would have done something to somebody? What would have happened to the animal and at what risk would it be to the humans and animals. I think they did the right thing by giving the seal to the zoo and keeping it there.

  • tw2001marvel
    11/20/2014 - 01:03 p.m.

    It would be dangerous to leave a seal too acclimated to humans free in the wild because since it has been around humans, it would get used to seeing them. So when the seal do go out I the wild, it would expect to see people and desperately try and search for them.

  • RM00charlie
    11/20/2014 - 01:04 p.m.

    seals are not suppose to be this close to humans. they are wild and are suppose to sty that way also seals attract sharks so that's dangerous. then we don't know what the people are feeding it. and if someone shows hostile behavior we don't know how it will react

  • TehyaWhite-Ste
    11/20/2014 - 01:13 p.m.

    It's sad that a nice seal now has to be locked up because he is too friendly. It doesn't seem like something to be punished for, but I do understand why they're doing it because it is safer for the seal because if he's too friendly in the wild, he will be eaten.

  • NashMcComsey-Ste
    11/20/2014 - 01:49 p.m.

    I do think that it is incorrect to say that having the humans pet the animal "Sealed it's fate." I would disagree on the grounds that the animal simply attached itself to humans, it did not fall victim to us. I am glad that it will be taken care of by a zoo. It seems the situation will be handled correctly.

  • 5EmilieT
    11/20/2014 - 06:29 p.m.

    evaluating pros and cons
    -she enjoys human company shouldn't her happiness be enough.
    -She isn't afraid of humans which could inti tile her safety because of they try o get her for testing or medication she won't fight back
    -She will be rejected by her own kind. When Wild animals have a human sent there own kind believes that they have been changed an altered or that they themselves are a human that is there to hurt them so they will reject her
    -She won't have any seal friends or mates which then she won't reproduce and create more seals.

  • HenryS-3
    11/20/2014 - 10:06 p.m.

    This article is about a seal that got too friendly. the female seal has gotten to used to having humans around, so animal centers have decided to bring the animal to a zoo in Detroit . I would have to agree in that the animal will soon not know how to fend for itself.

  • 5ReganF
    11/20/2014 - 11:33 p.m.

    Critical thinking:
    The seal is a wild animal, as domesticated as it may seem. Being in nature still exposes it to dangerous diseases, as the seal has no vaccinations. If this seal contracted any illnesses, especially from being in a polluted area, it could get those around it sick. It is also a safety hazard for people who get too close or even decide to pet the seal. Once again, it is a wild animal, and needs it's personal space, just like us. It doesn't understand right and wrong, so chances are if someone got too close, the seal could easily retaliate defensively. That would cause provoked action, and may end up harming someone. Chances are, too, if other animals observe another wild animal comfortable with humans, it could bring more and more to beaches and around humans, until all wild animals are too comfortable with humans. That could cause major health issues and nature issues. This seal was put in a zoo for becoming too comfortable, but if more animals come, there just wouldn't be enough space for them all. Plus, animals deserve to be free, especially if they are wild animals, the same way a human would wish to be free rather than lockd up.

  • 3PeterE
    11/21/2014 - 07:28 a.m.

    Response to Critical Thinking Question; I think that it would be too dangerous to release an animal into the ocean again after being in too much contact with humans, because it might then be accustomed to being fed. It might also be bad for the animal because it may think that it does not have any predators and not worried about being attacked. For example, if a shark or another natural predator of a seal were to approach the animal, the animal may mistake it for a human and be okay with the shark, which may lead to death.

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