Tags Posts tagged with "New York Marine Rescue Center"

New York Marine Rescue Center

METRO photo

New York Marine Rescue Center hosts a beach cleanup at Cedar Beach, 244 Harbor Beach Road, Mount Sinai on Sunday, July 9 from 6 to 8 p.m. and at Crab Meadow Beach, Waterside Avenue in Fort Salonga on Sunday, July 30 from 6 to 8 p.m. Come join them in an effort to eradicate marine debris from our local shores and help save our wildlife. To participate, register at www.nymarinerescue.org.

Unsplash photo

Mark your calendars! The New York Marine Rescue Center will host the following beach cleanups for the summer. Join them in their effort to eradicate marine debris from our local beaches and help save our wildlife. 

Cleanup’s at the following locations will take place on Sunday’s from 6 to 8  pm.: Cedar Beach, 244 Harbor Beach Road, Mount Sinai on July 10, Aug. 7 and Sept. 18; Crab Meadow Beach, Waterside Avenue, Fort Salonga on July 24, Aug. 21 and Sept. 25; and FINS at Smith Point County Park, 1 William Floyd Parkway, Shirley on July 24, Aug. 21 and Sept. 25.

To participate in one of these cleanup’s, call 631-369-9840 or visit www.nymarinerescue.org.

A seal pup found in the woods in Head of the Harbor is now resting at the New York Marine Rescue Center. Photo from NYMRC

When North Shore residents come across an injured animal, their first instinct is to reach out to a rescue or rehabilitation organization such as Sweetbriar Nature Center in Smithtown.

Good Samaritans used a blanket to load the seal on the bed of a truck. Photo from Sweetbriar Nature Center

Last Friday, Head of the Harbor residents called the center when they found what turned out to be a true seal pup, also known as a gray seal, washed up in the woods on the side of Harbor Road. The animal had been moaning and crying and seemed to be in pain.

Janine Bendicksen, director of wildlife rehabilitation and curator at Sweetbriar, said while the center’s representatives were willing to assess the problem, ultimately they called the New York Marine Rescue Center as Sweetbriar is not equipped to take care of marine animals. The nonprofit located in Riverhead rescues injured marine life and has a hotline, 631-369-9829, to call when people find one anywhere in the state. It’s the only facility equipped in New York to rescue the animals properly.

Bendicksen said, at first, the good Samaritans who found the seal thought it might be an otter.

“I know that most often these animals don’t need help,” Bendicksen said, adding, however, the callers seemed concerned due to it becoming dark outside and saying it looked weak and wasn’t responding.

Due to poor cell service, the good Samaritans in Head of the Harbor couldn’t send a photo to Sweetbriar, so they waved down a passing truck. Using a blanket, they were able to get the seal in the vehicle’s bed and bring it to Sweetbriar. Once the animal experts at the nature center saw that it was a seal pup, they called the marine rescue center immediately to pick up the animal.

“It was the cutest thing you’ve ever seen,” Bendicksen said, adding the seal weighs around 40 pounds. Adult males can grow to be 700 to 800 pounds. 

Bendicksen said what many people don’t know is that when it comes to animals such as seals, they are federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and shouldn’t be approached or moved. People can be fined if they remove such an animal, however, the Head of the Harbor residents were not liable due to believing the animal was injured.

Maxine Montello, rescue program director with the marine rescue center, said when spotting a seal or other water animals such as sea turtles on land, people should keep 150 feet away from the creature — about the length of three buses.

Montello said seeing seals on the North Shore is rare as they prefer the ocean, but it is possible to see them as they sometimes swim into the Sound looking for food. She said if they are spotted on the beach, most of the time the young seals are just looking for food or relaxing, which is called hauling out. The seals can be separated from their mothers after a few weeks because they are completely weaned and need to learn to fend for themselves.

She said if people spot a seal, they can call the hotline number and someone will be sent out to see if the animal is acting normal through an  infield assessment. Sometimes the seals can be dehydrated, she added, as they don’t drink water and get fluids from eating fish. If they are not eating properly, problems can occur.

Montello said the seals make noises that may sound like they are in distress, but that may not be the case in all circumstances.

“When they’re young, it comes off as a cute little cry, but it actually is their way of defending themselves,” Montello said.

Sometimes they will scratch their face to show how big their claws are or open their mouth to show their big teeth, she added.

The rescued seal pup from Head of the Harbor is about 5 weeks old, Montello said, completely weaned and has been diagnosed with conjunctivitis. 

“Our goal is to have the animal show us he can eat on his own,” she said.

The seal, which has not been named yet, is receiving fluid therapy to help with hydration. It will soon be given what Montello described as a milkshake-like drink made of fish and the next step is to feed whole fish to the seal.

The rescue center also ensures that a seal can swim properly before being released. Therapy for an injured or sick animal can vary from four to eight weeks but some recover in 72 hours. Montello said it hasn’t been determined yet how long it will take for the Head of the Harbor seal to be released.

She said the best practice is to step back if a seal is spotted while walking on the beach.

“We also tell people that you’re too close to the animal if you’re changing the animal’s behavior,” Montello said. “So, if the animal was resting and then you approach it and now it’s alert, that means you’re altering that animal’s behavior. The vocalization is a kind of a warning sign to step back. You just don’t want to stress them out.”

For more information on how to assist NYMRC, visit nymarinerescue.org/how-to-help/.