Unknown by so many even here at the Outer Banks, each year around Thanksgiving harbor seals begin to return to our beaches. As the weather begins to turn cold up north, and food sources begin making their way south – so to do the seals. That’s really what migration is about anyways, food. Both of these photos are from last year and the year before.
In order to stay productive with my photography, I try and give myself regular assignments. Last year it was waterfowl. This year it will be seals. Much of this has to do with projects for clients, story ideas I am working out, or just my absolute fascination with the natural world around me and my obsessive attempts to learn as much as possible.
This year’s first seal was spotted on Cape Point down in Cape Hatteras National Seashore over Thanksgiving weekend.
The first photograph was of a seal from the Spring of 2008 on the North Beach of the Banks. This was one happy seal. Really I tried to tell him that between the two of us, I was the cute one – which he obviously thought was a joke. Seeing a seal on the beach like this is a good sign. First, the whiskers are nice and healthy no curling which is a sign of dehydration. Second, his head is up. Healthy seals do “the banana” on the beach. Meaning head and tail head high at times.
The second photograph is from a seal in the same area from this past winter. Not so good. No banana, curled whiskers, a red rash which is possibly a form of herpes they can contract, and a bloody nose. This one had to be rescued.
If you see a seal like the one above – everything is fine. It’s perfectly normal for them to be on our beaches taking a rest. The second one however, as noted before is not doing so good. Regardless of health and status, these animals are federally protected and should be given plenty of room and give the marine mammal stranding network a call just in case – 252.728.8762
More on seals to come.