It’s a sad commentary on the decline of mankind’s relationship with nature in general and pinnipeds in particular that, in advance of Memorial Day, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration felt it necessary to publish a memo titled “No Selfies with Seals.” Basically, if you try to get that perfect shot of you and a baby seal, you might be sentencing it to death. And yes, it’s normal for pups to hang out on the beach alone — mom and dad have to bring home the sushi.
Maybe it’s just a consequence of the viral internet outrage machine, but we seem to be getting dumber about this stuff, no? We only just got over the news of that bison calf in Yellowstone that had to be euthanized after tourists decided it needed saving and subsequently put it in their car. Then the last few days have been saturated with news of the gorilla that was killed after a small child found his way into its enclosure. And remember last year when a tourist was gored trying to take a bison selfie? We can do better than this, guys.
“As tempting as it might be to get that perfect shot of yourself or your child with an adorable seal pup, please do the right thing and leave the seal pup alone,” wrote the NOAA. “Getting too close to a wild animal puts you — and the animal — at risk. Seals have powerful jaws, and can leave a lasting impression. We have received reports of a number of injuries to humans as a result of getting too close to an animal during a quick photo op. When you get too close to a wild animal, you risk stressing or threatening it, and stressed animals are much more likely to act unpredictably.”
Everyone already knew that selfie sticks are just the worst, but it’s nice to have NOAA on the right side of history — it says there just aren’t any selfie sticks long enough to get that super-important selfie without risking harm to the seal. The organization recommends staying at least 150 feet away; any closer and you risk incurring the wrath of a protective mama, or worse, freaking her out and causing her to abandon her litter.
Selfie sticks are arguably destroying our own species, and now other animals of planet Earth, too. If you wouldn’t club a baby seal, then don’t go for a sealfie, either.