NOAA Warns Beachgoers: No Seal Selfies

The agency reminds beachgoers that getting too close can cause pups to be abandoned by nervous moms.

Call it a sign of the times, but it's come to this: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has taken the unusual step of issuing a warning to New England beachgoers, asking them to please refrain from trying to take selfies with seals.

With seal "pupping" season underway just as humanity heads for the outdoors, the agency's Fisheries division for the greater Atlantic region urged people to just leave the seals to themselves.

"Please do the right thing and leave the seal pup alone," the agency wrote in an advisory note. "Getting too close to a wild animal puts you and the animal at risk."

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The NOAA further urged people to observe a distance of at least 150 feet from the animals and to be aware that seal moms will leave their pups on the beach for up to 24 hours – something that might look alarming to onlookers but is normal for the seals.

What's not normal for the mom, however, is to see her pup surrounded by selfie-takers. In such circumstances, she may abandon the pup, the agency warned.

"The best thing you can do if you want to help is keep away from the animal and keep your pets away from it, so the mother has a chance to return," says the NOAA's Mendy Garron in a statement.

"You're too close, if an animal starts to stare, fidget or flee," an NOAA public service announcement on the subject warns.

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NOAA clearly wishes to preempt potential repeats of recent, notorious instances of animals being harmed by the selfie craze.

In February, a rare dolphin in Argentina died of likely dehydration after it was passed around for selfies by beachgoers, sparking public outrage when the incident went viral:

Just days later, news broke of a juvenile shark that swam too close to shore being hauled out of the water for pictures with yet another group of tourists: