This Guide is made possible by Pip the Beach Cat. Yes, he’s a real cat, and you can come visit him when you’re in Ocean City! Check out his appearance schedule here, so you can come grab a high-five or shop some awesome Pip the Beach Cat x Ocean City MD swag. Or visit his online store that includes his award-winning book!
Seal Sightings in Ocean City, Maryland
Ocean City is home to a lot of wildlife that you might not have realized! From foxes to horseshoe crabs, and dolphins to sea birds, we have it all. But today, we want to talk about our favorite species we often get a glimpse of, which are seals!!!!
You may not know this but seals usually travel alone, and migrate from South to North during the winter months here in Maryland. So, it is not unusual to spot a seal when you are out for a walk on the beach in the winter to very early spring. The most important thing to remember is to not bother them [please never take a picture of a seal and post to social media where you saw it until you know it has returned safely to sea]. You should never go close to a seal, and definitely do not try to feed it. If the seal doesn’t already have “seal watchers” then you can make the call to send them out to keep the seal safe!
What is a Seal watcher you may ask? Well, it is a volunteer that belongs to a team that the Maryland Coastal Bays and Baltimore National Aquarium have trained and organized to keep watch of any seals that choose to rest along our beaches.
Why do the seals need to be watched? Well, it’s really important that the seal’s natural activity is not interrupted by humans, so these volunteers set up cones to create a safe space for the seal to rest, making sure that no one bothers him or her.
Why do the seals stop on our beaches here in Ocean City? Well, the seals have a long migratory journey and sometimes they need to rest. Sort of how if you were going to a very far away place and were driving, and needed to stop to sleep somewhere for a night.
How do we know if a seal is okay? So the seal volunteers are there to not only protect the seal but also monitor it’s activity. If the seal does not return on it’s journey within a certain time period, then there is most likely something wrong with the seal and it may have an injury or illness. In that case the Baltimore National Aquarium is called and they come to collect the seal. They then help the seal rehabilitate, and eventually, when it is healthy, it is released back into the ocean to continue it’s journey!
What do the seals look like? There are lots of different types of seals that rest on our beaches, and we have seen little brown ones to big white speckled ones. Each one is unique and magnificent, and always cheers us up in the cold, windy, winter months.
You can learn more about the seals in our area, and report one you’ve seen here on the Seal Sightings Section of the Maryland Coastal Bays Website, which states, “Seals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act – It is against the law to touch, feed or otherwise harass them! If you get closer than 50 yards to a beached seal, you are harrassing it – when a seal beaches itself – called haul out – it is because it needs to rest. As adorable as they are, by getting up close, you are doing more harm than good.”
If you see a seal you think is in distress, please call Maryland’s Natural Resources Police immediately – 1-800-628-9944