San Mateo County Harbor District officials are warning people not to disturb the young harbor and elephant seals that are appearing on local beaches at this time of year.
During the next several months, beach-goers may come across the mature pups that have been left temporarily unattended on Half Moon Bay and Pillar Point Harbor beaches while their mothers hunt for fish and leave their mature pups on the beach to fend for themselves.
This worries harbormaster Scott Grindy who fears for the welfare of both the seals and the humans who approach them.
"These pups cause lots of concern and public complaints that are often not warranted," said Grindy. "The pups need to learn to be adults and should be left alone."
People should not pour water on the pup, pet it, try to feed it, or drag it back into the water.
All such behavior not only disturbs the seals but can also endanger humans. Seal pups have been known to bite intruders.
If the mother does not return within a reasonable time, or if the pup appears undernourished or dehydrated, officials will step in to help but the public does not need to contact the harbor or try to help the seal, said Grindy.
When baby seals appear on local beaches, animal control officers will watch them and crowds should keep away.