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New Jersey's Marine Mammal Stranding Center sees a rise in stranded gray seal pups

Marine Mammal Stranding Center in New Jersey sees a rise in stranded gray seal pups
Marine Mammal Stranding Center in New Jersey sees a rise in stranded gray seal pups 02:29

BRIGANTINE, N.J. (CBS) -- The Marine Mammal Stranding Center (MMSC) is seeing a rise in gray seal pups being stranded at beaches along the Jersey Shore, which, the center assured, is normal for this time of year.

Stranding coordinator Jay Pagel said the region is currently in the middle of the annual gray seal pup migration when pups swim from their birthplace in New England and Canada to warmer water in New Jersey.

RELATED: Gray seal pup found tangled in plastic recovering at New Jersey's Marine Mammal Stranding Center

"Typically, things don't get quite this busy until about the beginning of March," Pagel said. "But with the weather being kind of stable and the seal populations up, we're seeing the animals coming through a little earlier."

Pagel said the gray seal pups come down looking for food, but they can encounter obstacles like getting entangled in trash or simply not knowing how to feed themselves.

"They're coming down here looking for food, trying to just find their way and figure out their place in life," Pagel said. "Some of them haven't quite figured it out. They wind up here; they lose too much weight. We'll pick them up just to put a little bit of weight on them and release them."

Pagel said the center currently has 10 patients recovering at the center though with a storm expected to roll through the region later this week, he said they may see additional strandings.

It's why they urge any winter beachgoers this weekend to stay back if they happen to see a stranded seal.

"They are wild animals. They are predators. They eat other living things to survive," Pagel said. "They might be cute and cuddly, but they're not very friendly."

The MMSC has a 24/7 hotline to call if beachgoers see a stranded marine mammal.

The phone number is (609) 266-0538.

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