SUFFOLK COUNTY, N.Y. - A young seal that was found flopping around a busy road on Long Island last weekend has returned to the Atlantic Ocean.
A passerby spotted the seal pup in the middle of what's normally a busy traffic circle on early Sunday morning in Suffolk County. Southampton Town Police then responded and stayed with the seal until staff with the New York Marine Rescue Center arrived to take care of the marine mammal.
The seal spent the week at NYMRC's facility getting fluids and food and being treated for some scrapes. A senior veterinarian then approved the release of the approximately 3-month-old gray seal pup — by then dubbed "Peconic" because he'd been likely searching for herring in the Peconic River before taking a few wrong turns and ended up on the road.
"The NYMRC staff are so thrilled that this animal has been cleared for release after a short period of time at the NYMRC and is ready to head back home," rescue program director Maxine Montello said.
Staff released Peconic at Tiana Beach in Hampton Bays on Friday morning. He shuffled toward the water and then suddenly stopped, turned around, and briefly looked back at the staff — as if to say farewell. He then pivoted again and disappeared into the waves.
Spring is seal pupping season in the northeast United States so you may come across seals on the beach. However, all marine mammals are protected under federal law, so keep your distance for their safety — and yours, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"Seals have powerful jaws and can leave a lasting impression. We have received reports of a number of injuries to humans as a result of getting too close to an animal during a quick photo op," NOAA says on its website. "When you get too close to a wild animal, you risk stressing or threatening it, and stressed animals are much more likely to act unpredictably."
(FOX 5 NY Photo)