The unseasonably warm start to winter has delayed the arrival of some annual visitors to the Garden State.

Seals typically migrate to New Jersey when the ocean water temperature dips below 45 degrees.

Bob Shoelkopf, found and executive director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, said only a handful of seals have been spotted so far, but expects that trend to change very soon.

"As the Arctic temperatures start coming in the next couple of weeks, we'll start seeing more of a sighting increase from the seals up north moving south," he said.

In past years, seal sightings have been reported all over New Jersey, from Cape May to Sandy Hook out to the Raritan Bay.

The number of seals reported in New Jersey can range from a couple to hundreds.

"Typically, they leave in May and June," he said.

Though, he did point out that some remained in New Jersey through this past summer, which showed them growing more accustomed to the warmer water.

Schoelkopf said the majority of these seals tend to migrate to the waters of Monmouth, Ocean and Atlantic Counties.

One problem in recent years is people approaching and being too comfortable around seals that are spotted around the Garden State. He reminds and warns people to stay, at least, 200 feet away from them.

"We want to tell people that they are still wild animals, they do bite," Schoelkopf said. "They need to come up and dry off on the beachfront in the sun and warm up their body and get the oxygen back into their blood."

If people are able to take pictures from long-distance, Schoelkopf urges them to send the photos to his facility. There, they will be able to identify the species of seal and look for any possible tags, which could assist in learning more about their migratory patterns.

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