Baby harbor seal found wandering streets of Long Island

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — Police on Long Island didn’t need handcuffs when they took an unusual traffic offender into custody.

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In a Facebook post, Southampton police posted photos of a seal that was found in a traffic circle. Photos show the animal in the middle of the road, as well as next to a Southampton police cruiser.

Earlier today Southampton Town 911 dispatchers received a call about a seal in the roadway at the traffic circle in...

Posted by Southampton Town Police Department on Sunday, April 3, 2022

Residents first called 911 to report the seal after the animal was seen wandering through a parking lot, police told CNN.

“What we believe happened is that the seal swam up the Peconic River, probably behind a big school of alewife fish,” Sgt. Jim Cavanagh told CNN. “The seal probably climbed up out of the river ending up in a park. There, it probably just got turned around and then traveled somewhere between 500 and 700 feet into the traffic circle.”

Officers reported their suspect initially “fled” towards a hotel before being taken into custody, WNBC reported.

The New York Marine Resource Center sent a team to get the seal and bring it to a rehabilitation center, the rescue center told CNN. “The animal is in good condition,” Maxine Montello, the rescue center’s program director, told CNN. “We think he just wandered a little too far from the beach. Hopefully we’ll be able to get him back to the beach as soon as possible.”

While seals wandering city streets is unusual, it has happened before. Montello told CNN a seal was recently found under a car and another was found in a Staten Island backyard.

Harbor seals are one of the most common animals on both the west and east coasts, and are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.