There are few things more adorable than a baby seal — which makes the sight of one tangled up in fishing nets devastating to anyone who’s not dead inside.
That’s why when Jeffery Dorr noticed this sweet little guy trapped in a mess of green rope near Owls Head, Maine, he was quick to pull him up and start chopping away at the net.
The harbor seal — who was likely born in April or May (seal baby season) — is clearly frightened by his predicament. She squirms around and makes little heart-breaking calls.
Though this rescue mission seems like the only logical thing to do when confronted with a trapped creature, experts don’t recommend it.
“Seals have sharp teeth and can transmit various viruses and bacteria to humans,” Leanna Matthews, a seal researcher, told National Geographic. “That’s why it’s really best to leave rescues to trained professionals.”
This particular baby apparently realizes the man is on his side. She gets squirmy as the ropes fall away, but doesn’t try to bite Dorr, who gently lowers her into the water once all the netting is off.
It’s not uncommon for seals to get caught up in fishing equipment.
Just last month, rescuers in Scotland rescued a less docile grey seal that had gotten trapped in a lobster line.
This mission was clearly a job for experts, as the seal was desperately thrashing and in critical danger of being choked while the team sliced the wire around its neck.
Seals are protected in the U.S., but about 880 harbor seals were victims of bycatch between 2008 and 2014.
Still, the population does not seem to be critically threatened by fishing practices yet. Around 60,000 harbor seals live in the western Atlantic and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has classified them as a species of “least concern.”
Next, watch this insane video of a sea lion dragging a girl into the water. Then, see this heroic dog rescue a drowning baby deer.