SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A baby elephant seal was drawing a crowd at San Francisco’s Aquatic Park Thursday, as well as prompting the placement of a Do Not Disturb sign.
Maggie Lonergan of the Marine Mammal Center says the wayward seal appears to be fine, and they are worried more about people at this point. Workers with the center placed a warning sign and yellow caution tape at the spot where the seal was lounging, urging the curious to maintain their distance.
“Sometimes people will try throw water on them or try to move them back into the water against its will,” Lonergan said. “Elephant seals will often behave like this on beaches, but they are not common in San Francisco Bay.
“He’s molting or shedding [fur],” said Deb Phalen, a volunteer with the Marine Mammal rescue team, who estimates the seal is between 6 months and a year old.
Elephant seals and sea lions are protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act and anyone harassing them could be subject to prosecution.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration offers these guidelines for watching elephant seals::
- Watch quietly from a safe distance of at least 100 feet – remember wild animals are unpredictable.
- Use binoculars and spotting scopes if you want a close look at the seals.
- If a seal becomes alert (looks towards you) or agitated and begins to move away, you are too close.
- Dogs and seals don’t mix. Dogs should be on a leash no longer than 6 feet.
- Observe beach closures and restrictions.