the federal marine mammal protection act of 1972 states that Harassing Marine Mammals in the Wild is Illegal and Harmful to the Animals. Local police should have called the NJ marine mammal stranding center and all would have been good. it was not a RESCUE! the seal was just tired, and needed to rest. it did not need to be manhandled AND THROWN BACK INTO THE WATER.
Stranded Seal Rescued Wednesday in Middletown
The rescue stirred up some controversy, as a marine mammal rescue group says Middletown PD should have called them to handle the seal.
By Carly Baldwin (Patch Staff) - February 22, 2017 7:56 pm ET
The first thing we recommend is for people to just leave the animal alone...Also, the officer could have been bitten standing over the seal like that. Police are trained in public safety, not wildlife."
MIDDLETOWN TOWNSHIP, NJ - Well, that's not something Middletown police are called to help with every day.
Middletown police shared these photos of Patrolman Frank Mazza rescuing a stranded seal Wednesday morning at Port Monmouth Beach. The issue is not without some controversy, however, as a leading marine mammal rescue agency says they should have been the ones called to attend to the seal — not the Middletown police.
"We were not called about this animal and I have no idea why," said Bob Schoelkopf, a marine biologist who is founder and director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine. "We have been called in to rescue marine mammals up and down the coast for the past 40 years. Many towns call us. I don't know why Middletown thinks they are something different."
Schoelkopf said his team of volunteers are trained to assess and remove marine mammals, and police are not.
"From the looks of it, that animal looks healthy and probably just hauled out of the water to rest. It it was injured, the officer may have injured it further, or if it was simply resting, it will now have to haul out again. The first thing we recommend is for people to just leave the animal alone," he said. "Also, the officer could have been bitten standing over the seal like that. Police are trained in public safety, not wildlife."
Towns such as Matawan and Aberdeen, as well as Sandy Hook Gateway National Recreation area and Island Beach State Park have all called the Marine Mammal Stranding Center whenever an errant seal comes ashore, or when whales or dolphins wash up on their beaches.
Schoelkopf said he filed a complaint with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) about what happened in Port Monmouth Wednesday.