A seal pup found in the Flanders traffic circle on Sunday morning was turned over to marine biologists who took it in for evaluation, Southampton Town Police said.
Officers responded to a 911 caller reporting the seal off Woodhull Road in the Thrifty Beverage parking lot and upon arrival, the seal fled southwest in the direction of the Budget Host Motel at 6:31 a.m., police said.
Officers surrounded the seal, which they identified as a juvenile gray seal and detained at the scene before experts with the nearby New York Marine Rescue Center (NYMRC) arrived to take it into custody.
On Monday, NYMRC director Danielle Perillo said the seal was unhurt and “doing well,” and that they do not believe the seal was at the traffic circle due to any human interaction. “We believe he came from the Peconic River,” Perillo said, pointing to the body of water that flows beneath Peconic Avenue just north of the circle and directly connects with Flanders Bay and the Great Peconic Bay to the east. She said the seal was likely foraging for food in the river and then climbed a fish ladder and made his way to dry land.
“Gray seals are known to be explorers and often investigate the environment around them; even traversing several miles at a time,” NYMRC shared on Facebook on Tuesday. The rescue organization said they have previously responded to seals traveling far distances from the water, “so this case is not abnormal.” Earlier this year, NYMRC said they rescued another male gray seal that wandered far from the ocean into a wooded area.
“Our goal is for all animals to be released, and that will be the case with this seal as well,” Perillo said on Monday, explaining that the seal would be released back into the wild at a later date.
Seals are federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and humans must maintain a 150-foot distance from them. If you see a sick or injured seal, please stay back and report the animal to NYMRC’s 24-Hour Stranding Hotline at 631-369-9829.