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

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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.

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. 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. 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. It was 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. It was released and went back into the water.

But two days later, the seal was back ashore again. This time it was 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. 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. The animal had 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. They 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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Assigned 43 times

  • 21jtmyer
    11/19/2014 - 12:10 p.m.

    Who hooked the seal, why did the search and rescue people keep putting the seal back in the water the seal comes back that's a sine that mean's it's hurt.

  • 21lktemb
    11/19/2014 - 12:10 p.m.

    I think it would be so cool to pet a seal on the beach!! It is sad that a seal had a swollen flipper. That would really hurt if I were that seal. It is also sad that another seal got a fishing hook lodged in its mouth. I can't imagine how much that would hurt.

  • km1999bieber
    11/19/2014 - 01:05 p.m.

    The beachgoers didn't do anything other than feed the seal and pet her. The seal kept returning to different shores because it became fond of being around humans, even though they can cause her stress and to become anxious. so the people didn't really do anything, it was just because the seal liked humans.

  • L2000neon
    11/19/2014 - 01:08 p.m.

    I think its cute how the seal wanted to be around humans because most animals are scared of us. I wish I would of seen this seal when I went to the beach last summer.

  • Cs2001Tardis
    11/19/2014 - 01:12 p.m.

    People petted the seal and gave it food. I hope the seal doesn't get sick again in the zoo. The seal is a different to other friends beach goers have, but I think it is cool. I great name for her would be Sandy because she used to hang around all the beaches.

  • DG2000Optic
    11/19/2014 - 01:13 p.m.

    This seal was under the sea like nemo lol but he was lonely and needed food. Luckly the fisher men just decided to throw some bread in the water to feed some fish

  • jahylaw
    11/19/2014 - 01:16 p.m.

    They Should Be Able To Be Friendly . They Shouldn't Have To Be Afraid To Not Be Friendly & They Should Be Able To Stay Where They Are At

  • nancyM-Cla
    11/19/2014 - 02:09 p.m.

    I think the reason the seal kept coming back to the shore was because , he liked the love and attention from the humans . Also they were feeding him , petting him , and got him medical attention when needed . I really enjoyed this article because it was a cute story . And I loved how the seal kept coming back to the humans for attention and not to hurt them . If I saw a seal on the beach , I wouldn't approach it I would call the police to get it safely back into the ocean .

  • ethans-loy
    11/19/2014 - 02:33 p.m.

    sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuutttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee I would keep him as a pet for the rest of my life because he is so cute he is cuter than me I mean like nobody Is cuter than me I mean every body knows that

  • christian-ezz
    11/19/2014 - 03:27 p.m.

    My answer to the critical thinking challenge is: If a seal living in the wild got used to humans than it would probably die from hunger. It would starve due to being used to being fed by humans. It's kind of sad that humans feel like we can feed the animals living in the wild. If more of us stopped and thought about what would happen to them then this sort of thing wouldn't happen as often.

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