A small harbor seal found alive on the beach in Long Beach on Sunday afternoon was gone by Monday morning, it's whereabout unknown, according to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation and concerned citizens that found and kept an eye on the mammal.
A rescue team from the foundation, a nonprofit organization that recovers any marine mammals or sea turtles that wash ashore in New York state, responded to multiple calls about the seal that was found on Laurelton Boulevard beach at about 2 p.m. Jan 12.
“We received detailed reports about the animal's behavior, which was alert and active, and photos depicting the animal's body condition,” Melissa Martin, a public relations coordinator for the Riverhead Foundation, said in a statement. “After careful review and following our assessment protocols, we decided the seal should not be disturbed and monitored for the next 24 hours.”
Martin said that when the foundation received a call on Monday morning that the seal was still on the beach, the foundation dispatched a biologist to the area and requested assistance from conservation biologists in the area.
“The animal was observed going back into the ocean on its own before our team arrived,” Martin noted.
One of the citizens who reported the beached seal to the foundation wrote to Patch and others on Monday, stating that “Sandy,” the name she and others gave to the mammal, was spotted at the beach at 6:15 a.m. but it was not moving or responsive like it was on Sunday evening.
“Shortly after 9 a.m., I was advised that the Bay Constable and the Town of Hempstead witnessed Sandy going into the ocean,” she wrote. “Sometime later, a witness saw her resurface on the shore.”
She noted that at about 11 a.m. Monday, she returned to the beach accompanied by an employee of the City of Long Beach’s animal control, but the seal was gone.
“Of course the hope is that she is safe despite the numerous reports circling around that she had been taken in a truck; dragged off by teenagers and other such horrific stories,” she wrote. “We can only hope for the best. A group of residents will be monitoring the beach in the next few days to see if she resurfaces.”
The Long Beach Police Department contacted the Riverhead Foundation and were told that the seal was resting on the beach and went back into the water, Commissioner Michael Tangney said.
"We get calls every year from people that do not realize this is perfectly normal and a regular occurrence on our beaches and the marshes in Reynolds Channel," Tangney said.
The Riverhead Foundation’s 24-hour rescue hotline is 631-369-9829.