Now that it's winter, seals have started to make an appearance along the New Jersey coastline.  But if you happen to come across one, don't approach it.

David McNew, Getty Images

"Sometimes the younger ones won't run away when they see people, but that certainly doesn't mean you should try to go near them.  Seals are wild animals and they will bite," said Sheila Dean, co-director of Marine Mammal Stranding Center.

Dean said since seals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, it's against the law to approach them.

So why are they in New Jersey to begin with?

"Chances are they are just resting. They need to warm up and replenish their oxygen because they use up a lot when they're diving deep. It would be much better for them if people didn't approach them at all," said Dean.

If you happen to see a seal, it's important to contact the Marine Mammal Stranding Center so that they can take a look at the seal to make sure the mammal isn't in respiratory distress or that anything else is going on.

"We have people who are trained for this. It's not something that just anyone can do," said Dean. "So, anyone who sees a seal should just give us a call, we may ask some questions about it's size, how it's positioned, etc. Just don't walk up to it or get too close. We will send a trained volunteer to take a look at it."

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center has a 24-hour hotline at 609-266-0538.