A seal washed ashore Tuesday near 30th Avenue North in Myrtle Beach, surprising many who saw the creature not normally associated with the Grand Strand. Onlookers were asked by Myrtle Beach Police to keep 50 feet away from the seal.
The seal appeared to be a small harbor seal with a shark bite on its flipper, according to The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Rob Young, a marine biologist at Coastal Carolina University, said a seal vet in Cape Cod told local officials it’s probably best to leave the seal alone since the injuries do not seem that severe.
“It’s all superficial,” he said.
The harbor seal typically sticks to colder waters in the northeast down through Virginia, but they can make it this far down from time to time. They move further south during the late fall to early winter, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website.
The harbor seal occasionally can be found in the Carolinas. Seals can safely get onto the shore and not get stuck. In fact, they typically prefer to mate on sandy or rocky areas, especially when they’re south of Cape Cod.
“It’s just that it’s Myrtle Beach, and we don’t see it,” Young said. “It might be here for a while longer.”