Do not be tempted by this photogenic grey seal.

Do not be tempted by this photogenic grey seal. (Photo: Mateusz Wlodarczyk/CC BY-SA 4.0)

Imagine: it’s the tail end of Memorial Day Weekend. All your friends have been posting pictures of themselves laughing it up in various attractive early summer situations. You, on the other hand, have found yourself at a relatively average New England beach—gritty sand, cloudy sky, some water. There is no Instagram filter that can enhance this. How to set yourself apart?

Look! There, down the beach—a lone seal pup, wriggling in the sand. Do you approach the seal? Do you click that little button that switches to the front-facing camera? Do you put your head near the pup’s head, as though you are pals, and smile?

No. Do not do it, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association said in a recent press release. Do not take a selfie with the seal.

This is the Ellen Degeneres At The Oscars of seal selfies in the making, but you must resist.

This is the Ellen DeGeneres At The Oscars of seal selfies in the making, but you must resist. (Photo: skeeze/CC0)

Ours is an age of animal selfie disasters. There are the bison of Yellowstone, violently tired of being photographed. There was the dolphin in Argentina who may or may not have been killed by selfie-happy beachgoers. There is the macaque who, after a protracted court battle, lost the rights to his own self-portrait.

NOAA’s message is, essentially, that we don’t need to drag seals into this. Seal moms leave their pups alone when they go out hunting—if they come back to see you Snapchatting them, they may abandon them in intergenerational fear. Also, they could bite you: “Seals have powerful jaws, and can leave a lasting impression,” NOAA writes.

“As tempting as it might be to get that perfect shot of yourself or your child with an adorable seal pup,” they write, “please do the right thing and leave the seal pup alone… No selfie stick is long enough.”

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to