Show of con­cern gets seal of ap­proval

But ex­perts say sea mam­mal in Glace Bay har­bour is prob­a­bly just rest­ing, not stranded

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY SHARON MONT­GOMERY-DUPE

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.

SHARON MONT­GOMERY-DUPE/CAPE BRE­TON 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.

SHARON MONT­GOMERY-DUPE/CAPE BRE­TON POST

A young harp sea, shown rest­ing at Glace Bay har­bour on Mon­day, has the com­mu­nity talk­ing.

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