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Mystic Aquarium and Partners Urge Visitors to Use Caution at Sandy Point on Block Island to Protect Wildlife

May 24, 2024

MYSTIC, Conn. (May 24, 2024) – Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program, in collaboration with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Nature Conservancy of Block Island, are urging visitors to use caution at the north tip of Sandy Point on Block Island and to maintain a safe distance from seals resting on the beach.

Block Island’s scenic North Point is a well-known favorite spot for visitors to enjoy nature. “It’s crucial to remember that this area serves as a resting and breeding site for seals and other wildlife. While these magnificent creatures attract admirers eager to observe and photograph them, it's essential to be mindful of their habitat and well-being,” pointed out U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Block Island National Wildlife Refuge Manager Karrie Schwaab. Federal Marine Protection guidelines stipulate that viewing seals should occur from a minimum distance of 150 feet.

These guidelines exist for the protection of the animals, but also for the safety of people viewing them. Seals, while attractive and captivating, carry harmful bacteria that can pose risks to human health. They can also be protective of their territory, especially during breeding season. It's imperative for visitors to maintain a safe distance to protect both themselves and the seals.

“While we encourage people to enjoy these animals from a safe distance of 150 feet, many are unaware of the regulations protecting marine mammals," said Sarah Callan, Manager of Animal Rescue at Mystic Aquarium. "Marine mammals can carry zoonotic diseases that can transmit to humans and pets, so maintaining a safe distance prioritizes public safety."

Visitors are encouraged to educate themselves about local wildlife guidelines and act responsibly when encountering seals or other marine animals. Signs will be posted at Sandy Point to enhance visitors' experiences and provide educational information about the local wildlife. Furthermore, a complete list of guidelines for interactions with marine mammals is available on NOAA’s website.

“Respecting wildlife and their habitat is essential to preserving these environments for future generations. We want people to enjoy the beauty of Block Island, and we appreciate the public’s cooperation in helping to protect and conserve local wildlife and the surrounding ecosystem," stated Scott Comings, Associate State Director of the Nature Conservancy.