A seal sunbathing on North Carolina’s Outer Banks and enjoying unseasonably warm February weather has become an Internet star.
Video of the lounging seal pup was captured Saturday by Kitty Hawk-based photographer Cory Godwin, and had garnered more than 311,000 views on Godwin’s production Facebook page by Wednesday. Seals, especially young ones, typically start showing up on North Carolina beaches in January to snag some fish before heading back north to New England and Canada in spring.
They’re mostly pups that can’t yet compete with adults in their home waters up north, so they head south to forage for fish, Karen Clark, program director of the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education in Corolla, said last year. The center is operated by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
The creatures aren’t sticking around but instead have made the roughly 500-mile swim to North Carolina from growing colonies in the Northern United States or Canada.
Since 1972, seals have been protected by the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act, making it illegal to shoot or harm the animals. Seal populations have rebounded after nearly being wiped out.