April marks the beginning of the time of year when harbor seals start giving birth to pups.
Typically, pups can be born as early as the beginning of April, but the season gets into full swing from May to June, according to the Marine Mammals of Maine website.
Baby harbor seals can appear to be stranded and alone on Maine beaches, but the mothers are typically foraging for food nearby and feel as though the babies can be safely left alone, according to the Maine Department of Marine Resources. Seal pups may be left alone by their mothers for up to 24 hours.
Passersby are warned not to approach, touch or otherwise interfere with seal pups, as it is illegal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to handle these animals without proper authorization. Seals, both adolescent and adult, also have sharp, canine-like teeth that can cause severe injury if the handler is not properly trained.
It is recommended to keep the area where a lone pup is spotted quiet, and onlookers are discouraged from encroaching on harbor seal’s space.
If you suspect that a seal is stranded, sick, hurt or displaying other symptoms of distress, the Maine Marine Animal Reporting Hotline can be reached by calling 1-800-532-9551.
There are ample opportunities along Maine’s coast to watch seals from a safe distance.
The Maine Tourism Association offers resources to connect with organizations that provide seal watches, and many coastal towns offer their own outings to showcase Maine’s seal colonies.
Or, if you want to watch seals and other wildlife from the comfort of your own home, check out these live camera feeds.