By Walter Brooks
While the national press carries stories about the seal rehabilitation centers being crowded by the increase in injured pups, the problem had a local face on Lighthouse Beach in Chatham Sunday morning when local sunbathers alerted the local environmental police about an injured pup at the end of the sand spit.
This is how the pup appeared to our photographer when she came upon him Sunday.
When the rescue team arrived they used the board on the right to move the pup near enough to slide him into the cage to transport him to the rescue center.
Well intentioned beach goers sometime try to move or otherwise help injured seals. This is against the law, and will do more harm than good.
Seals are federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, and anyone who touches or tries to transport an injured seal can be arrested. The proper action is to call the local police of 911 immediately, then stand by to help direct them to the animal when they arrive.
About 25% of new seal pups die in their first weeks, and only half make it through the first year. Pups sometimes get separated from their mothers, and often a stray pup will attempt to suckle at another mother. When this happens the bull seal of that herd make attack the stay, injuring or killing it.
New pups are often killed or injured by sharks or boats.
You can get more information at the Cape Cod Stranding Network web site. The telephone number is (508) 759-5477.