Sharing the Shore with Seals

Given the number of seals around Nantucket now, it is very likely that you will see a seal swimming offshore or sunning itself on the beach. For your own safety, the safety of your pets, and to comply with federal law, it's important that you be aware of the Do's and Don'ts.  You may also come across a distressed or dead seal one day. If you do, please report it to the appropriate authorities.

Seals are federally protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Under this law it is illegal to harass, harm, or disturb a seal’s natural behaviors. 

Seals may also bite if provoked and may carry diseases that can be transferred to people and pets, so getting too close can be dangerous as well. 

  • Try to avoid getting within 150 feet of a seal (about half the length of a football field), as that may disturb the seal.
  • Keep pets on a leash.
  • Keep quiet.
  • Don't try to feed a seal.
  • Don't pour water on or attempt to cover a seal.
  • Don't try to push a seal back into the water.
  • Call the MMAN HOTLINE 833-667-6626 if a seal is injured, entangled or deceased

PLEASE REPORT injured, entangled, and deceased seals to the MMAN HOTLINE:  

The Marine Mammal Alliance Nantucket (MMAN),, is the authorized marine mammal stranding response organization for Nantucket, Tuckernuck, and the Muskeget Islands.

Removal of Dead Seals

Dead seals can only be removed after the Marine Mammal Alliance Nantucket (MMAN) authorizes removal.  

It’s up to the owner of the beach in question to decide whether to remove the dead animal. In the case of Sconset Beach, contact the Nantucket Land Bank, 508-228-7240,, for the area in front of Codfish Park and Wade Cottages, and the Town of Nantucket, 508-228-7261 (Beach and Park Hotline), for the rest.

For an interactive map that shows the owner of each beach on Nantucket, visit

You can also submit an inquiry to the Town of Nantucket through its online Contact Us form at and they will help you get in touch with the beach owner.

This is against the law and potentially dangerous for your dog!

"Seal Finger" is an infection you can get from seals.

Gray Seals:
Quick Facts

Weight: 550 to 880 lbs
Lifespan: 25-35 years
Length: 7.5 to 10 feet
Location: New England/ Mid-Atlantic


Learn More About Seals

Seal Terminology

Adult male: Bull

Adult female: Cow

Young seal: Pup

Breeding colony:

Climb onto beach: Haul Out

Resting or sleeping in the water: Bottling

A group of seals: Herd


A gray seal can stay underwater for up to 16 minutes.

Seals come out of the water to rest and molt. They may stay on land for up to a week without being in any danger. (Putting water on them is considered a form of harassment.)

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