A recent seal-related incident has prompted authorities to remind tourists and Icelanders alike to please leave the seals alone.
Hálfdán Helgi Helgason, a scientist at the East Iceland Nature Center, stated:
“We received an announcement about a seal cub in Reyðarfjörður on Sunday evening. He had been greatly disturbed, people were taking pictures with him, patting and even holding him, which is the worst thing.”
According to Hálfdán, such contact with humans is dangerous, as it can cause the cub to be prematurely abandoned by its parents. It is extremely important for seal cubs to learn to fish for themselves at a young age, and such contact can stunt this development.
This story in particular has a happy ending, and Hálfdán notes that the cub was recently seen swimming and fishing.
If an animal is seen in distress, he recommends either calling the police or MAST:
“People have to call the police and they start a work process with MAST (The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority) and not to take matters into their own hands and not to take the animals into foster care at all.”
In addition to the danger posed towards the seals, authorities remind tourists that it can be dangerous for people as well, as wild animals may bite or otherwise attack.
Of course, these guidelines do not just extend for seals, but for all Icelandic wildlife, whether seabird or Arctic fox.
So, please, save your pats for your animals at home, or check out the Reykjavik petting zoo!
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