Each winter, Virginia’s coastline is visited by migrating seals, whales, and other marine life.
During these periods, the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team receives dozens of calls informing them of the locations of “hauled out” seals.
Hauling out is when seals or other marine mammals temporarily leave the water between feedings. This information is helpful for the aquarium’s population surveys and research.
As sightings continue to increase, the Stranding Response Team encourages residents and visitors to leave the animals alone. It is normal behavior for seals to haul out onto beaches and rocky outcroppings to rest.
Approaching them can be dangerous. Like most marine mammals, seals are protected by federal law and should not be approached or harassed.
If threatened, they may bite people or other animals. Please also refrain from feeding them as it may result in the seals associating people with food.
When seal sightings occur, the public is advised to call the Stranding Response Program at (757) 385-7575 as soon as possible, regardless of the animal’s condition.
Taking a picture and/or video with a phone, while maintaining a safe distance, can help stranding response staff assess the condition of the animal.
The team may need to come out and evaluate the health of the animal, determine the species and location, and take photos for individual identification.
source: City of Virginia Beach