Posted by: The ocean update | March 13, 2016

Mild winter affects health of ice seals (Maine, USA)

The mild winter is affecting the health of ice seals in Maine. (Photo : Custom)

The mild winter is affecting the health of ice seals in Maine. (Photo : Custom)

March 13rd, 2016. BATH, Maine — Ice seals typically migrate south from Canada and spend winters in the icy waters off the coast of Maine.

This winter, though, has been anything but typical and it’s affecting the animals’ health.

The migratory seals eat snow and ice to stay hydrated, especially as they get ready to make the long trip back north. Without it, Lynda Doughty, executive director of Marine Mammals of Maine, said more seals than normal are getting stranded toward the end of winter.

“They get stressed and will start eating rocks and sand in front of them, and then that just lead to further decline in health,” she said.

In the past week, the group responded to about a dozen stranded seals. Doughty said normally responses are spread out throughout the winter, not all at once.

“These animals are having a tough time,” she said.

While the relatively warm temperatures this winter may have made for a busy few weeks compared to normal, Doughty said that’s not necessarily an indicator of how many of Maine’s native seals will become stranded.

“That is too soon to tell, but it does make us wonder if there’s going to be an early pupping season because it’s been so mild out,” she said.

No mater what time of year it is or what type of seal you may stumble upon, Doughty encourages people to call Marine Mammals of Maine and let them take care of it.

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