Cape Seals Getting Feisty

Posted by Mark Washburn on Friday, September 21st, 2018 at 5:07am.


chatham seals

Photo: Allison Richards

Cape Cod is known for its stunning scenery and abundant marine life, but it seems some of the Cape’s seals are getting a bit feisty as of late. There have been two recent reports of seals coming in contact with children along the Cape this summer, including a girl who was bitten on her hands in mid-August at Ryder’s Cove. Just one day later a young boy was also bitten.

Apparently in the first incident the teenager was preparing to board a boat at the town landing when it happened. The floats are at water level here, whereas most of the rest of the pier is elevated. It’s likely the seals are approaching people here in search of handouts.

That’s a problem, as feeding or interacting with the seals causes them to become too comfortable around people. The teenage girl, however, was reportedly just rinsing her hands at the time. Some locals say they’ve seen seals like this on the Cape acting much more aggressive this season than in past years.

To help prevent further instances, town leaders recently installed new signs at Ryder’s Cove warning people not to feed the seals and letting people know that seals can and do bite. Even so, some report they commonly see recreational boaters throwing bait into the water, further attracting the seals to stick around.

While locals hope the signs work, it is illegal to feed the seals, and people who do so could face a fine. People can also be fined for dumping fish waste or bait in the area.

It’s definitely not uncommon to see seals in Chatham and the Outer Cape beaches, with many boat tours taking people out on the water for seal watching. It’s projected that thousands of gray seals, possible tens of thousands, live off the southeastern coast of Massachusetts.

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