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Queens Chronicle

An arctic visitor to Rockaway

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Posted: Thursday, March 13, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:34 am, Thu Mar 20, 2014.

It’s still winter and that means few — if any — humans are spending their days on Rockaway Beach. But last week, one creature made like it was summer and relaxed on the sand.

A harp seal, native to the Arctic shores of Canada, shimmied out of the sea last Thursday and sunned himself at Beach 21st Street in Far Rockaway. The scene concerned passersby, who feared it may have been sick and lost, but marine biologists from the Riverhead Foundation told DNAInfo that the seal was happy and in good health. A message — “I’m just tanning, please keep back” — was written in the sand by a police officer.

The abnormally cold winter likely brought the year-old seal farther south than usual, experts suspect. At least 25 other harp seals have been seen in the area this winter, the Riverhead Foundation said, compared to just one last year.

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