TAPintoTravels — All eyes were on everyone’s favorite groundhog this week, but it was a baby seal that stole the spotlight at the Belmar marina.

During the morning of February 1, borough public works employees were working at the marina’s boat ramp when they noticed the gray pup sitting on the jet-ski dock, said Ed Markey, who works in the department and also serves as the borough’s unofficial “social media” photographer.

“I took the photos from a dock across from where it was laying and then walked over to the bulkhead behind it, and I took a bunch of closer photos,” he said. “There have been seals in our marina and on our beaches, but it’s not very common.”

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No one is certain whether the seal is the same one that came ashore the previous day on a Deal beach about five miles north of Belmar. But what is for sure is that the Jersey Shore is in the midst of “seal season,” when baby seals are typically seen along the coast following the birthing season.

After the pups feed on small fish in the shallow waters, they tend to come ashore to replenish their oxygen supply before returning to the waters, according to the Brigantine-based Marine Mammal Stranding Center. As the waters get warmer, the seals will begin to migrate north to cooler waters.

However, officials warn that baby seals are not as cute and friendly as they look, and seal-sighters should stay at least 50 yards from a resting pup. While they are wild animals and can bite, it’s also against federal regulations to touch them.

Anyone who witnesses a seal that is distressed or may need help is asked to call their local police department or the stranding center on its 24-hour hotline at 609-266-0538.

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