High drama in our household over the last couple days! We’ve had an adult harp seal visit us and he spent a couple days enjoying our back yard! He was a very cute visitor and my daughter thought he was her new pet. I was sad to see him leave this morning but also very relieved because I was starting to worry. So, here’s the story.
At the crack of dawn yesterday when my husband woke up and went downstairs for his coffee, he spotted something white in the back yard. The sun came up a couple hours later to reveal a big fat seal. Crazy stuff, huh? Who expects to see a seal in their yard? If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you already know that we are lucky enough to rent a house on the water in scenic Jamestown, Rhode Island. So, I guess finding a seal in the backyard should not be all that surprising.
Of course, since he was up on the grass (as opposed to sunbathing on the rocks), my husband and I were concerned. We got in touch with the local NOAA division, which in turn led us to the fantastic people at the Mystic Aquarium Animal Rescue program.
They immediately sent a local coordinator, the amazingly sweet and informative, Pam, to our house. She gave me some pamphlets, let me use her binoculars and took tons of photos. She determined that it was an adult harp seal and since he seemed healthy and very content, we should just observe him. Pam returned in the evening to make sure he was ok and I think we were all hoping that he’d go back to the water at some point in the evening.
Well, he was still around this morning but at approximately 10:30 a.m. we were fortunate enough to see him swim away.
The seals unexpected visit inspired me. Here are some cute note cards that you can download for FREE. Print as many as you’d like and enjoy! They are 4 inches by 6 inches so there are two on a page.
In case you wake up tomorrow and find a stranded mammal in your yard, here’s what to do (and not to do)! List courtesy of the Mystic Aquarium Animal Rescue Program.
- Do not touch the animal. All marine mammals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. This law makes it illegal to touch, disturb, feed or otherwise harass marine mammals without authorization.
- A beached whale, dolphin or porpoise should be reported immediately and left alone pending further instruction.
- Give the animal plenty of space. Crowding stresses the animal and may cause it to act aggressively.
- Keep pets away from the stranded animal. Not only can they bite and cause injury to the stranded animal, but they may be injured by it. Diseases can also be transmitted between stranded animals and pets.
- Do not pour water on a seal, feed it, cover it or attempt to move it into the water. It is normal for seals to come ashore to rest.
- Be observant. Take note of any obvious signs of injury, the overall body condition of the animal (is it robust or thin?), identification tags, the presence of other animals (especially important with dolphins), the sea state and recognizable landmarks that will make it possible to locate the animal.