As Memorial Day weekend approaches, shore towns are preparing for an influx of people seeking out fun in the sun along South Jersey’s beaches.
But those towns are reminding people of the proper procedures if they encounter stranded or injured marine life, who have sought out the beach for different reasons.
Seals, dolphins, and sea turtles are just some of the ocean species that staff at the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine tend to throughout the year. However, people are more likely to come into contact with these stranded creatures as the weather turns nicer.
Local police departments as well as Bob Schoelkopf, founding director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, advise those along the beach to never get too close to a stranded mammal. In the case of a stranded seal, Schoelkopf says some are tempted to try to help the mammal get back into the water, while others get too close while trying to take a picture with the seal.
In both cases, Shoelkopf explained that harm can come to both the seal and the person.
Captain Steven Ang of the Ocean City Police Department advises that anyone who comes into contact with sick or stranded marine life to call the police, who can create a safe zone that keeps both people and the animal as safe as possible.
Schoelkopf also recommends emailing a picture of the mammal to his center so the staff can properly assess what they are dealing with.
Seals may wash up along the South Jersey shore through August, while dolphins and sea turtles are more common later in the summer.
Read more Sunday in The Press of Atlantic City.