MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – A harbor seal spotted on-shore in the city near 30th Avenue North entertained dozens of visitors and residents Wednesday.
Myrtle Beach police watched the seal overnight, making sure no one disturbs it or shines any light on it. SC DNR was notified about the seal, as well as a couple of federal agencies.
During a quiet time on the beach, a young harbor seal was the star of the Grand Strand.
“We have six kids and, this morning, we were baking Christmas cookies,” said Ronita Steffes of Myrtle Beach. “One of them had seen it on the internet and they’re like, ‘Oh mom! Please, can we go see a seal on the beach?'”
“I saw that it was at 30th Avenue (North), and I was like, ‘That’s only eight blocks from us. Let’s head down and see this,'” said Kristen Selvage of Myrtle Beach, who was watching the seal with her two daughters. “So when they got out of school, we headed down here.”
NOAA says harbor seals are usually found in the Atlantic Ocean from Canada to New York, so this pup’s Southern appearance was a surprise to many.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen one,” said Sarah Recht, who’s from Georgia and in Myrtle Beach for a basketball tournament. “I’ve seen dolphins, but that’s about it. He’s really cute and he’s just chilling.”
Dr. Rob Young, a marine scientist for Coastal Carolina University, says seals sometimes swim south when the water is colder.
“They’re here every winter,” said Dr. Young. “Usually, you see one or two at a time. A few years ago, we had a couple that would haul out regularly in Murrells Inlet on the jetties for several weeks. We had similar things in Little River.”
Dr. Young and a veterinarian inspected the seal on the beach. Dr. Young says the seal is about a year old and was likely separated from its mother.
He also says it suffered a small wound on its flipper and possibly its neck out in the sea, but didn’t need to be taken for treatment.
“Nothing that looks like a large bite wound or any sort of major injury like that,” Dr. Young said. “It may have gone through something small, but it seems to be in good health.”
Dr. Young says seals will come on-shore to recover from injuries, so this rare beach day was the right medicine.
“He just kind of rolls around a lot,” said Lillian Selvage. “He’s just trying to figure out what he’s going to do, I guess.”
Dr. Young says the seal will recover on the shore until it feels ready to go back in the ocean.