From February through May, female harbor seals also come ashore at FMR to give birth and nurse their young. Mother seals leave pups briefly on shore when they forage for food. If you see a lone pup, do not approach it closely; do not touch, move or otherwise disturb it. Chances are good that a seemingly abandoned pup is simply waiting for its mother’s return, but she will not come back to it if humans are too nearby.
It is extremely difficult to reunite a mother and her pup once they have been separated. It is best to move out of the area to give the mother and pup the best chance for reuniting.
Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is an excellent place to view harbor seals all year long in their natural habitat. Bring binoculars or a camera with a long telephoto lens for the best viewing.
Hauling out onto land to rest and warm themselves in the sun makes harbor seals vulnerable to disturbance. Harbor seals are shy animals whose habits are easily disrupted by the presence of humans on land.
Please stay 300 feet away from seals resting onshore or on rocky intertidal areas. When conditions permit, reserve staff set out orange cones and signs to create a buffer zone around resting seals, but you should always look for harbor seals before moving into an area on the beach or reef and be ready to change your route to avoid approaching too closely.
Report any signs of a distressed animal to reserve staff, and we will keep an eye on the animal and call in the Marine Mammal Center if it needs rescue.