A group of admirers inadvertently put a 6-week-old gray seal pup in such danger that it had to be rescued Tuesday afternoon, the New England Aquarium said.
Police had noticed many people crowded around a seal pup that was found on a popular Hull beach Tuesday, giving the animal so much attention that it needed to be relocated for safety reasons, said Tony LaCasse, aquarium spokesman.
Using nylon “crowder boards,” or planks with handles, aquarium workers reduced the pup’s space and nudged it into an open dog kennel in order to remove the 25-pound female from the beach just after 2 p.m.
Wild animals are very sensitive to stress, he said, and such traumatic events can often lead to their decline.
Because the pup was born so recently, she is “right on the margins of surviving,” LaCasse said.
“We relocated her to a much more secluded, quiet natural reserve on the South Shore to get the rest she needs,” LaCasse said.
It is common for winter beach walkers from Plymouth to Cape Ann to see seals on the beach this time of year, though this year has seen even greater pup numbers, LaCasse said.
LaCasse said many people are unaware of how to keep the animals safe.
“We teach people to watch from a safe distance,” LaCasse said, emphasizing staying at least 50 yards away from seals, keeping quiet, keeping dogs away, and not feeding the animals.
The pup, still mostly white with much of her birth coat and with black spotting on her face, is not exhibiting any significant health problems because of stress, and will not require any rehabilitation after Tuesday’s rescue, LaCasse said.
“We really would have preferred to leave this animal alone,” he said.