BOSTON (AP) — The feds have a warning for beachgoers in New England during Memorial Day weekend: Don't take selfies with the seals.
Seal pupping season is underway in the region, but people who approach a seal pup on the beach can put both themselves and the animal at risk, the Greater Atlantic Region of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries said in a statement Thursday.
"There is no selfie stick long enough!" officials warned. "As tempting as it might be to get that perfect shot of yourself or your child with an adorable seal pup, please do the right thing and leave the seal pup alone."
It is normal behavior for a mother seal to leave her pup on the beach for up to 24 hours while she feeds, experts said. But if the mother sees people near her pup, she might feel it is too dangerous to return and abandon her young, with "devastating" consequences for the pup.
The statement also notes that wild animals act unpredictably and seals can leave a "lasting impression" with their powerful jaws.
"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," officials wrote.
Experts have long warned about the dangers of swimming too close to seals in the water, since seals are a favorite food for sharks and the sharks might not distinguish between people and their intended prey.