On April 3, a baby seal pup was trying to cross a street in Long Island, New York, when he was stopped by police after a local bystander called 911.
Police arrived on the scene and detained the seal, who was later taken into custody by the Riverhead Foundation. At this time, it is not believed that the seal pup was charged with resisting arrest.
Jaywalking Seal Pup Seals His Fate, Detained By Police
The Southampton police posted news of the incident to their Facebook page just before 2 PM on Sunday, April 3.
They released a statement that read, “Earlier today Southampton Town 911 dispatchers received a call about a seal in the roadway at the traffic circle in Riverside. Some of our officers responded and found a baby harbor seal in the roadway near the Budget Host Inn. Our officers were able to detain the seal until the seal was taken into custody by the Riverhead Foundation ”
The post received over a thousand reactions and hundreds of comments from concerned citizens. “So now our local police department has an experienced Seal team?” one user asked.
“I’m glad to see the Southampton Police can really seal the deal,” another commented.
“Was there reasonable and articulable suspicion to detain the seal?” another asked.
Another asked, “Did they read him his rights?”
“It looked like they sealed off the area before moving in,” another noted. “Good job.”
Puns aside, many users wondered how exactly a baby seal pup ended up in what is usually a crowded traffic circle on Long Island. Fortunately, the Riverhead News-Review seems to have figured that out.
Baby Seal Pup Reportedly Climbed A Fish Ladder In Riverhead
One outlet reported that the seal pup had climbed a fish ladder at Grandbel Park before it made its way into the Riverside traffic circle on Sunday. Maxine Montello, a rescue program director for the New York Marine Rescue Center, said that she obtained video showing the seal pup climbing the fish ladder and scampering into the roadway.
Many will be relieved to know that the male gray harbor seal pup was evaluated and was revealed to have no external injuries. The seal will stay with the organization over the next few days as they await the results of several more tests to make sure the animal is okay.
“Our policy is that if we’re not able to get to the animal to the beach without putting our hands on it then we do usually bring them back to our facility for an assessment,” Montello explained. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to move it to a beach in the next week or so.”
Southampton police said that the 911 call came in around 6:30 AM, reporting that the seal was spotted off Woodhull Road in the Thrifty Beverage parking lot. When police arrived on the scene, they found the baby seal moving through the roadway toward the Budget Host Inn. Both the Thrifty Beverage store and Budget Host Inn said that they do not have security cameras facing the traffic circle to show the seal pup’s path of travel.
Montello believes that the pup was foraging on alewives in the Peconic River before he lost its way.
“These animals start wandering up the beach paths and end up kind of in human territory,” she explained. “So we do see it happen quite a lot. We’ve picked up these little gray seals in people’s backyards, near roadsides, they’ve traveled pretty far, you know, several miles at one time. So it’s not too abnormal.”
However, she warned that members of the public should not touch the animal and maintain a distance of 150 feet at all times.
“They’re federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which requires people to stay a minimum of 150 feet away,” Montello explained. “They are wild animals and though they’re so cute and small, it’s critical for people to call our 24-hour hotline to report these individuals.” The number to report animal sightings to the New York Marine Rescue Center is (631) 369-9829.