Show of concern gets seal of approval
But experts say sea mammal in Glace Bay harbour is probably just resting, not stranded
Members of a marine animal society say a harp seal that appears to be injured and stranded in Glace Bay Harbour is most likely just resting.
“The animal actually looks fine, it actually looks quite healthy and like it’s just out resting,” said Tonya Wimmer, director of the Marine Animal Response Society.
Wimmer said an animal such as a seal will haul out to get that rest, so this is actually quite normal for the environment they are used to.
She said seals are not designed to move around on land easily so often will just lay there and sunbath.
“It’s a young animal, they need their rest time. A harp seal is an ice seal, this is quite normal for them.”
However, Wimmer said, in these situations they ask people to keep an eye on the animal — but not to bother it — as situations can change.
“When it comes to healthy animals we try to intervene as little as possible, except in situations where we really need to,” she said.
“If it looks like it’s being harassed by other people or animals, we ask people to contact us as then there might be things we could do.”
There were a number of Glace Bay residents at the harbour Monday, distraught over the seal that appeared to be stranded and injured.
“Someone has to help the poor little thing,” said Anne MacKinnon of Glace Bay.
MacKinnon said she became concerned after seeing the seal in about the same area several days in a row while walking her dog near the harbour and hearing there is blood on the seal.
“There are so many cruel people out there, someone has to help this little guy.”
Several people gathered at the harbour were even trying to find a way to assist the seal.
“If no one helps him we’re going to get a boat and go out and get him ourselves,” said one man who wished not to be identified for personal reasons.
The man said the seal has been around since at least Thursday and a mother seal has not been seen. He said the seal isn’t moving much and appears to be disoriented and injured, as there is blood on the end of the seal and on the ice.
He said they have called different government departments looking for assistance but no one would help them.
“I wish someone would step into the picture and do something. If it was a deer or a dog out there you wouldn’t get down South Street. He’s there by himself and said he has no backup, no one to help him out.”
The Cape Breton Post contacted the Department of Natural Resources, who said they didn’t receive a call regarding this seal but that a seal would be marine animal and would not fall under their jurisdiction.
However, a Natural Resources officer did say their department has provided assistance in the past by alerting the Marine Animal Response Society who helps in such situations.
After viewing photos of the animal in the harbour, Wimmer of the Marine Animal Response Society, identified it as a harp seal, probably about two to three years old.
She doesn’t believe the seal is injured.
“Seeing the blood at the tip of his tail, even that’s normal from crawling around or swimming around the ice,” she said.
“With seals crawling around a beach we often see scrapes and stuff on them. Salt water is one of the best natural healers, it’s usually something that is all right and will heal over time.”
Wimmer said at this time of year a seal or pup can stay on out on the ice for quite some time.
“We’ve had them sit in areas, whether summer or winter, for over a week or more.”
However, she said, it’s not to say time might go by and something might begin to feel not right about the seal, or someone could see it being harassed. If so, they ask the public call them toll free at 1-866-567-6277.
“If people have questions or want to call periodically and give updates, such as it was moving around, that’s fine.”
She said people should not go near any wild animal, including a seal.
“These are wild animals, they have quite the set of teeth and they do bite and they do carry diseases.”
She said the society is based in Halifax but they have a network in the three provinces in the Maritimes and connections with other groups including rehabilitation resource people, if needed.
The Department of Agriculture/Fisheries and Aquaculture has not yet returned calls from the Post.
A harp seal estimated at two to three-years old rests in the middle of Glace Bay harbour, Monday. Residents of the area were concerned that the seal might be injured and stranded. Members of the Marine Animal Response Society are asking Glace Bay area residents to contact them if anyone sees people or animals harassing this seal or if it appears something might have changed with the seal’s condition.
A young harp sea, shown resting at Glace Bay harbour on Monday, has the community talking.