While there’s a certain appeal to getting close to new seal pups, wildlife officials are urging people to keep their distance – not even the perfect selfie with one of the soft marine animals is worth the consequences.
Even so, seal admirers and tourists in general get closer and closer to the creatures when they meet on the beach. Unfortunately, an ill-timed snapshot with a seal pup could prove to be disastrous not only for the selfie-taker, but also for the young animal.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the warning was prompted by a string of impromptu selfie-sessions which resulted in a range of animals either injured or dead.
Dolphins, bison, and sharks – and some people, too – have been the victims of this unfortunate trend. “There’s this general phenomenon where we raise the bar for ourselves of what would be a fun selfie to take and share with others,” explained Zlatan Krizan, an associate professor of psychology at the Iowa State University.
In July 2015, a woman was injured as she was attempting to take a selfie with a bison. Unfortunately, that’s what happens when people want to outdo themselves or other “adventurers” in terms of the coolest selfie with an animal in the wild.
But this trend of taking selfies with wildlife also poses dangers for animals. The concerns of wildlife advocates and officials became a tragic reality in the highly-mediatized incident with the baby dolphin this past winter.
In February, a baby Franciscana dolphin was pulled by a group of beachgoers in Argentina, and passed around for petting and taking photos. The young dolphin was eventually left on the sand, appearing dead and not moving at all.
“Wild animals are not toys or photo props. They should be appreciated – and left alone – in the wild where they belong,” said a spokeswoman for World Animal Protection after the outrageous event made it in the news.
NOAA’s warning is supposed to prevent similar situations with newborn seal pups that may be left on the beach while their mothers hunt and feed. “Getting too close to a wild animal puts you – and the animal – at risk.”
To avoid getting the pups and yourself into trouble, NOAA recommends staying at least 50 yards away from any seals.
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