Judy Desmarais of Beach Court said she should have been busy packing to move on Thursday.
Instead, she spent most of her day excitedly watching a premature harbor seal pup occupying Pavilion Beach.
After the New England Aquarium hotline received a call about the seal early Thursday morning, at least three of the aquarium's trained field stranding response volunteers went to the scene to keep an eye on the pup, which was resting comfortably very near to the former Birdseye building close to Fort Square.
Desmarais was very much taken with the creature, which she described as being very friendly, and she was talking to it, like she would to her cats. She nicknamed it "Pavi the seal" if a female, "Pavy" if it's a male, both in honor of its brief Pavilion Beach home.
"It's so cute when it yawns," she said, "and it puts its flipper up near its face. I talked to it like it's my cat."
Denise Foley, also of Gloucester, spent most of Thursday at the beach, leaving only to get warmer clothing.
She was taking video footage every so often of the seal and the scene at the beach.
"I came down to take a single picture," she said, and ended up staying. And she wanted to make sure she could help stop dogs from harassing the pup.
"It's perfectly normal, and is resting," said aquarium volunteer Laura Howes of Manchester. She explained that it's very likely the seal's mother was feeding out in the water and "could be gone a couple of days while the pup is here to rest."
"You need to stay back so the mother won't abandon the pup," she added. "Adults are more wary of humans than the pups are."
She also said that there was a good chance the mother could return overnight, once the beach calmed down for the night and there were no other people around. She was confident, as were the other volunteers, that the pup is in good health.
"It's pretty fat and healthy and being fed by its mother," she said. Seals are also bred for chilly weather, she said, so being outside the water is just fine.
The seal pup is premature, Howes said, noting its white and fluffy fur that's shed once it's born at full term.
Howes and other New England Aquarium volunteers want to emphasize that people must stay about 150 feet from the animal, and keep their pets on their leashes.
"They are mammals, and can transmit diseases to dogs," she said.
The aquarium's Marine Animal stranding hotline is 617-973-5247.
Allegra Boverman can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3448, or email@example.com.