BRIGANTINE — The Marine Mammal Stranding Center has received its first patient of the season - a female harbor seal discovered hurt and stranded on Monmouth Beach on Dec. 28.

According to MMSC officials, the sea identified only as #22-155 was wheezing and suffering from a laceration on her right side.

The yearling, likely born last spring, was immediately taken to MMSC for supportive care and medical treatment.

The seal weighed 42 pounds when she was admitted. She is currently resting in Pen A of the intensive care unit and is said to be eating well on her own.

“We are happy to report that she is responding well to treatment for her respiratory issues, and the wound on her side is healing up nicely,” according to an MMSC statement.

How many rescues has the MMSC made?

In the last year, MMSC has responded to a total of 156 animals, totaling 5,881 animals since opening its doors in 1978.

In 2022, the MMSC responded to 47 dolphins, 51 seals, 8 whales, and 49 sea turtles.

The center is grateful for all the good people who called in these sightings. They rely on callers, and beachgoers to give them a heads-up on any marine mammal sightings.

MMSC's first patient of the season, an injured female harbor seal (Photo Credit: MMSC)
MMSC's first patient of the season, an injured female harbor seal (Photo Credit: MMSC)

What do you do if you spot a beached seal?

It is not uncommon for a harbor seal to visit New Jersey in the winter. Officials said oftentimes, young seals will only stay with their mothers for about a month and they are on their own.

As a reminder to beachgoers who see a seal on the beach, do not try to feed them. They will bite.

Just because a seal is on the beach does not always mean they are sick or hurt.

The demands that diving puts on their bodies are physically exhausting. Before a dive, seals expel most of the air in their lungs, relying on the oxygen stored in their blood and muscles instead, the MMSC stated.

A seal can stay underwater for about 30 minutes while they hunt. But afterward, they need to rest and replenish their oxygen stores.

So, a seal on the beach could simply mean they are resting and should not be disturbed.

The MMSC urges beachgoers to stay at least 150 feet away from the seals. Too many people close by may make them nervous, causing them to flee back into the ocean before their bodies are ready to do so.

That could make them sick, or worse, even drown because they are exhausted.

If you’re not sure if a beached seal needs medical assistance or not, that’s okay.

Simply call the MMSC 24-hour hotline at 609-266-0538 and trained technicians will come out and check on the animal.

Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at

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