A harp seal pauses after being released in Maine following treatment after being found stranded earlier in the year, March 30, 2008. Credit: Joel Page | AP

Heavy surf has brought many young seals to New England shores in recent days, and scientists say it’s important for people to leave the animals alone.

The New England Aquarium says the seals encountered lots of people walking on beaches on Saturday and Sunday, and many of the beachgoers got too close to the animals. The aquarium says encounters with humans are likely to stress out the young animals during a vulnerable time.

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Thousands of newly weaned gray seal pups and yearling harp seals come to New England shores in the late winter. The aquarium says the animals might look like they’re in danger, but the vast majority of the time they are perfectly fine and need people to say away.

The New England Aquarium’s Marine Animal Hotline is 617-973-5247 if the animal needs help.