Unexplained Lesions Found on Stranded Jersey Seals

Officials aren't sure what's causing the wounds or if they're harmful to public

By Vince Lattanzio
|  Tuesday, Dec 8, 2009  |  Updated 8:16 PM EDT
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Weirdest Creatures of the World

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Large, raw lesions have been found on two of four baby seals who washed up along the Jersey Shore in recent weeks.

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Rescued Jersey Seals Have Odd Lesions

Wildlife officials at the Jersey Shore are trying to find out what's causing unexplained lesions on stranded seals.
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Baby seals may look cute and cuddly, but wildlife officials in New Jersey are warning residents who come across the mammals to stay away.

That's because two of the last four stranded pups that washed up on Jersey Shore beaches had unexplained lesions on their faces and flippers.

"It's something we haven't seen before," Bob Schoelkopf of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center said.

Center officials aren't sure if the wounds -- which resemble a large, raw sore -- are caused by a viral infection or contagious disease.

"Anytime we see something new we're concerned because of medication and treatment, how we're going to resolve the problem or if it's something we don't have to worry about," Schoelkopf said.

Test samples have been taken from the seals and the surrounding waters to try and determine the threat, but results aren't expected for several days.

The four pups, who range in age from six to eight months old, are recovering at the center in Brigantine, N.J. after beaching themselves in Ocean and Atlantic Counties. They're expected to be okay, Schoelkopf said, noting that the center has a 90-percent recovery rate.

If you find a stranded seal, you're asked to call the Marine Mammal Stranding Center at 609.266.0538.

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