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MERR Institute has been rescuing more seals on Delaware beaches

Young female gray seal rescued from Cape Henlopen State Park on Saturday, Feb. 10.
MERR Institute
Young female gray seal rescued from Cape Henlopen State Park on Saturday, Feb. 10.

Delaware is seeing more seal rescues.

The Marine Education Research and Rehabilitation Institute recently responded to multiple seal pup rescues on Delaware beaches.

While there is no one reason for the seals showing up on the beaches, the MERR Institute believes it could be linked to the developing seal colony off of Lewes.

There’s also the flood tides washing the pups off the rocks and into the bay and ocean.

But MERR Executive Director Suzanne Thurman says seals are no strangers to Delaware.

"It's actually fairly common although people don't expect to see seals in Delaware,” said Thurman. “We have been getting them for decades and since seals have to come out of the water in order to sleep they're often up on beaches and docks and places where people would tend to be so they get this opportunity to sight them and hopefully to report them to us so we can assess them and make sure that they're healthy."

MERR made multiple rescues recently to help pups receive adequate hydration and nutritional support.

This happens because seal pups are so young and reliant on their mother for nursing that they’re not capable of being independent.

It’s also a safety issue as the pups are vulnerable to attacks from adult male seals on the developing colony off of Lewes.

Thurman says if you spot a seal on the beach don’t get near it and try to coax it back in the ocean.

"Part of the reasons for keeping the distance of 150 ft is to try not to stress them and frighten them, which might cause them to go back in the water prematurely," said Thurman.

Also, if you spot a seal while walking a dog, keep the animals away from each other and call the MERR Institute.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.