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A Warning About Beached Mammals

August 07, 1992|DAVID WHARTON

Wildlife biologists have two words of advice for people who come upon a beached seal or sea lion: Stay away.

"First of all, it's a federal offense to harass a marine mammal," said Joe Cordaro of the National Marine Fisheries Service. "Going up to pet one or feed one--that's harassment.

"Also, they can inflict a nasty bite."

Beached mammals aren't necessarily sick, experts say. They often haul themselves up on land to rest and bask in the sun. Most often they pick isolated spots, but sometimes they'll show up on public beaches.

And, unless the animal's body temperature has reached dangerous levels, it's not a good idea to pour water on it.

"That the quickest way to give it pneumonia," Cordaro said.

Dee Cross, of Sea World's marine rehabilitation center, suggests that beach-goers note the animal's location and size, then tell a lifeguard or call the nearest animal shelter.

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