They may seem perfect for your next skill, but NOAA is warning you to think twice.
They may be adorable and a seemingly willing participant, but don’t even think about taking a selfie with them, government officials are saying.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is warning people in a message titled “No Selfies with Seals” as people start heading to beaches and coastlines for the summer that it’s a bad idea for a number of reasons, according to the statement.
It may seem like a fun idea to put their child next to a seal for a photo, but seals are actually pretty dangerous. They have powerful jaws and, while not necessarily aggressive, they will use those jaws. There have been reports of injuries due to a human getting too close to a seal during the photo op. This can stress the seals, causing them to act unpredictably, NOAA warned.
Also, don’t worry if you see a seal pup all by itself: it doesn’t need rescuing, even if it is crying loudly. Mother seals often leave pups alone for up to 24 hours so they can feed. And even if you don’t see her, she’ll probably see you, and that can mean something bad for her baby: she may think the situation is unsafe and abandon the pup altogether.
NOAA advises staying at least 150 feet from seals.
“Approaching a wild animal can be considered harassment, which is an illegal activity,” the statement notes. “Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, harassment is defined as ‘any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance’ which has the potential to injure or disturb a marine animal. This can be dangerous for the animal, but can be dangerous for you, too.”