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Seal Watching Tips

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Years ago, after decades of being hunted, gray seals were almost nonexistent on Cape Cod. But now, with protections in place, the seal population has bounced back in a big way, and today crowds of them can often be found all around Cape Cod. Viewing these gorgeous creatures in the wild is a thrill for anyone, but especially boaters, who have access to the offshore waters and secluded islands where seals love to gather. Here are few tips to keep in mind when viewing seals.
• Your best bet for viewing seals is to look for them on rocks and beaches. They’ll occasionally haul themselves up onto piers, but they prefer beaches and rocky, secluded islands.
• Seals are federally protected, so it’s a crime to touch, feed or harass them. Harassment of seals is defined by your behavior changing a seal’s behavior.
• Not only is it a crime to feed seals, it can also be dangerous. If they view you as a source for food, they can become aggressive. So don’t feed them, ever.
• Keep at least 50 yards away from resting seals, and limit your viewing time to no more than 30 minutes. The less rest seals get, the more vulnerable they become to sickness and predators.
• Don’t ever get in the water with seals. Sure, they’re cute, but don’t forget that they are wild animals.
• If you come across a seal that is sick, wounded or entangled in netting, don’t try to help it yourself. Instead, call professionals. On Cape Cod, call the International Fund for Animal Welfare at 508-743-9548. On Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket, call NOAA officials at 866-755-NOAA (6622).

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