Share the Shore: Watch Marine Mammals Responsibly
Share the shore with seals and sea lions. Bring your binoculars and enjoy them from a safe distance to protect their health, and yours.
In the age of selfies and social media, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of being close to wildlife and sharing photos. Seals and sea lions come ashore to rest and nurse their young, often in busy beach areas. In some areas, mothers leave their pups on the beach while they feed out at sea. Close encounters with people can be harmful. Human disturbances may interfere with important survival behaviors, or cause mothers to abandon their pups.
Remember, it is a violation of federal law to harass seals and sea lions.
Share the Shore with seals and sea lions by watching marine mammals in a safe, responsible way. Here’s how you can help!
Give animals space
Move away at the first sign of disturbance or agitation. Seals on land are easily disturbed and may change position, move away, flee, trample or abandon their pups. Animals may become stressed and repeated interruptions by you and others may be harmful to their health or cause abandonment. Bring your binoculars and enjoy them from a safe viewing distance to protect their health and yours.
You can tell if you’re too close to an animal if it starts to stare, fidget, or flee. Even if you don't see these reactions, we recommend you keep yourself and your pets at least 100 yards (the length of a football field) from seals and sea lions to make sure you're not disrupting important behavior, such as resting, feeding, nursing, or breeding.
Be considerate of mothers and pups
Seals come ashore to rest, regulate their body temperature, and nurse their young. It is normal for mothers to leave pups behind if there is a disturbance onshore. Moms may not return if humans are too close to the pup onshore. Keep your distance so mom can return to care for her pup.
Keep pets away and on a leash
Pets can disturb or harm wildlife, or may separate mothers from their pups. These are wild animals that can injure or spread disease to pets and humans. Please keep your dogs on leash when visiting West Coast beaches, especially during harbor seal pup season.
Save this number
If you see an injured, stranded or dead animal please call NOAA’s West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 866-767-6114.
Outreach Materials and FAQs
No Selfies with Seals and Sea Lions
While you may be tempted to get close to cute animals, remember that they are wild animals! They have sharp teeth, sharp claws, and are potentially dangerous and very capable of inflicting bodily harm. If they feel threatened, or stressed, they will react, and you do not want to be in their way if they do. Obey federal law and resist the desire to get too close.
Share the Shore
The West Coast provides many opportunities to observe seals and sea lions as they swim, rest, or tend to their young. For your safety and the animals’ health, never approach or interact with a marine mammal.
Find a safe distance to view these wild animals. Bring your binoculars and enjoy spotting local seals and sea lions.