VIRGINIA BEACH - Crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel or boating nearby this time of year, you might spot seals swimming in water or taking a break on the rocks.
Brian Lockwood was fishing from his jet ski on Saturday when he saw a group of seals. So he grabbed his camera, snapped photos of them laying on the rocks and in the water, and posted them on his Website. He wrote "There were at least a dozen seals hanging around the third island, always cool to see them."
That started a flurry of e-mails questioning whether there was something wrapped around a seal's neck.
So he took a closer look at the photos did that and realized there might a gill net squeezing its neck. He'd seen several around the islands of the tunnel.
Concerned for the seal's well-being, he called the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center's Stranding Response Team.
Aquarium spokeswoman Joan Barnes told WVEC.com the stranding team had been alerted by Brian and went to check them out.
"Since the 300-pound seal (approx.) was on the rocks, the team could not safely get to him. However, if it were to strand on a beach then they could possibly remove the netting. However, the seal appears to be healthy at this point. so that is a positive sign," she said.
She added that it's obvious the seal has been entangled for quite some time.
At the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, spokesman Tom Anderson says it's not unusual for the seals to show up around this time of year.
For Lockwood, he just hopes the seal is okay.
"The stranding team told me it was going to notify the VMRC (Va. Marine Resources Commission) since some nets were in close to the rocks," he added.
He looks forward to seeing them on his next trip.
In the last couple of years, I've seen more and more of them. There used to be just one or two of them; now, in the last five years, I often see as many 12."
The Stranding Team reminds boaters to keep their distance from the seals because they may bite if approached. Should you think any marine animal you see if sick or injured, call the Aquarium's Stranding Response Center at 757-385-7575.
To get an up-close look at seals without going onto the water, you can see five male harbor seals at the Virginia Aquarium.