Juvenile Harbor Seal Basks Off Wellfleet Pier

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Juvenile Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina)

Harbor seals are frequent fall visitors to Wellfleet Harbor, where adults can often be observed chasing schools of menhaden and hauling out on the floating docks of the Inner Harbor.  (See Ode to a Lazy Seal and Wellfleet Harbor Seals Return for Halloween.)  Yet, this small lethargic juvenile seal seemed out of sorts and out of place when Turtle Journal encountered it on Tuesday afternoon. 

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Juvenile Harbor Seal Hauls Out at Wellfleet Pier

The seal had taken refuge on the sandy beach just off the working fishermen’s section of the Wellfleet Pier.  When Sue Wieber Nourse spotted the juvenile, it lay quite motionless on the warm sands heated by 60 degree late October sunshine.  Since marine mammals are federally protected, Sue ensured she did not disturb the animal by staying a significant distance from the critter and photographing the event with telephoto magnification.

Juvenile Harbor Seal Savors Sunny Autumn Day

As Sue filmed a short clip of the basking juvenile, some tourists approached within 50 feet of the animal and it began to respond to their presence.  After they were waved off, the harbor seal resumed its patient wait for the tide to envelop the warm sands on which it had hauled out.  Turtle Journal alerted the marine mammal stranding network that said they had kept this seal under observation at this spot for the last 24 hours. 

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Juvenile Harbor Seal Snoozes as Tide Rises 

As Turtle Journal left Wellfleet Pier, the juvenile harbor seal seemed to be snoozing as the tide continued to rise.  When Sue returned to the pier later in the day, the young seal had disappeared with the now receding tide. 

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