Signs of spring suggest the seasonal march of migrating fish will begin any day now as we settle into the longer, warmer days of April.

More times than not, shad and northern puffers lead the way, arriving from the south of our 1,000-foot-long concrete ocean fishing pier located at milepost 16.5 in Nags Head.

They are followed closely by feisty bluefish, croaker, sea mullet, and trout. We’ll keep everyone informed on our Fishing Report listed at jennettespier.net. One can also check the wind, waves, weather, and web cams on our Current Conditions page.

If you’re interested in sight-seeing in person, head to Jennette’s Pier, and grab a bench to watch marine mammals at play. Almost every day, visitors can spy dolphins frolicking near the pier, but occasionally, whale spouts dot the sea surface.

These behemoths lumber north back to feeding grounds off of New England after wintering in warm Caribbean waters, where they mate and produce calves. It’s certainly a thrill to see them pass close by.

If you come across a marine mammal — dolphin, porpoise, seal, or whale -- stranded on the beach, however, don’t touch it. Instead call one of two first responder organizations.

For the northern beaches from South Nags Head north to Corolla and up to Carova, call the Outer Banks Marine Mammal Stranding Network at (252) 455-9654 for assistance.

For Coquina Beach, Oregon Inlet and all of Hatteras Island, call the Cape Hatteras Stranding Hotline at (252) 216-6892. They will gather information from you, and then get volunteers to the animal as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, most of these stranded animals are typically sick, injured, and or dying. That’s why it’s important not to push it back out into the ocean.

These first responder volunteers gather information on the animals before more experienced biologists respond. In some cases, vets are consulted over the phone or in person.

When marine mammals do die, animal autopsies called necropsies are administered. Depending on the size and condition of the animal, it may be transported off the beach to holding area for later scientific research. Otherwise, it may be buried in place.

Most of the time, the seals are simply hauled out to rest and warm in the sunlight. Although they are awful cute and cuddly looking, they are wild animals that may bite and can harbor infectious diseases, such as rabies.

Seals are federally protected, and it’s best to stay 150 feet away — that’s the law, and this includes vehicles, as well as dogs.

For more on marine mammals, or to find out what’s biting this spring, call Jennette’s Pier at (252) 255-1501 or visit jennettespier.net.

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