Seal-pup season now under way – so please keep your distance

August 4, 2013 at 4:58 pm | In Seen at sea, West Seattle news, Wildlife | 9 Comments

In the foreground, that’s “Sparkle” the seal pup, the first one spotted this season by Seal Sitters – and its appearance on an Alki-area platform these past few days unfortunately is cause for an urgent reminder instead of a happy announcement, because of boaters getting way too close. Seal Sitters’ Robin Lindsey estimates the pup to be just a few days old, which means if its mom is scared away, its life is at risk: “It is imperative that people STAY BACK from this platform (both in the water and on shore) to lessen the risk of abandonment and death for this pup, shown here with a larger yearling. There was a steady stream of boaters getting much closer than NOAA’s 100-yard recommendation, causing the adult seals to flee into the Sound.” Robin reiterates that “human interference truly is a matter of life and death for all seal pups their first year of life – and most certainly the first 4 weeks when they are nursing on mom’s rich milk, unable to forage on their own. We are documenting all violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and sending photos to NOAA’s Office for Law Enforcement and WDFW Enforcement for investigations – neither of which takes harassment of wildlife lightly. Boaters need to stay back from rafts, docks and buoys with resting seals and sea lions. For boater guidelines, go here.” Robin shows and tells even more of the story on Blubberblog.

P.S. If you see a seal pup – or a marine mammal of any kind, alive or dead – ashore in the West Seattle area, please call Seal Sitters at 206-905-SEAL (206-905-7325). Elsewhere – find info here.

9 Comments

  1. These seals have got to be the cutest animals in the world, and we are so grateful for Robin’s photographs of them and the Seal Sitters for all they do!

    Comment by Diane V — 8:15 pm August 4, 2013 #

  2. Your boater guidelines link returns a 404 message.

    Comment by M — 12:23 am August 5, 2013 #

  3. A few weeks ago we saw a seal on the platform off north end of Lincoln park [couldn't tell if it was adult or not] In the short time we were there we saw several boats making close drive-bys of the platform as it it were some kind of exhibit just for them. Thanks and good luck Seal Sitters trying to keep these babies safe is quite a job.

    Comment by cj — 12:32 am August 5, 2013 #

  4. Fixed, thanks.

    Comment by WSB — 12:48 am August 5, 2013 #

  5. Call Seal Sitters for every natural seal death?
    .
    But seals do have a natural death rate, and dead seals provide an important food resource for our local bald eagle population. I appreciate Seal Sitters’ valuable work informing the well-meaning public to not approach resting seals, but by the same token, I wouldn’t want well-meaning volunteers to approach a dead seal and deter eagles from a natural meal.

    Comment by community member — 12:33 pm August 5, 2013 #

  6. CM, we talked with Seal Sitters about this. It’s not a matter of having to clear away every carcass but research is done on dead marine mammals and it provides vital information such as whether diseases are circulating in the population – diseases that might spread to other animals, birds, people – I know there are instances in which the carcass is just left, but if they can respond and check it out, the research could save lives in the ecosystem. There are probably other reasons, but that’s one that Robin and I were talking about last Saturday (also in the context of keeping off-leash dogs off beaches – interaction with something alive or dead could be harmful to them too). – Tracy

    Comment by WSB — 1:34 pm August 5, 2013 #

  7. But, just the same as a mother seal may be frightened away by human involvement, it is probable that an eagle will not return to a seal carcass after human involvement.
    .
    Inspecting, sampling, and then leaving the carcass may be fine for feeding crows and crabs, but it is NOT optimal for feeding bald eagles. And a mother eagle may have had her eye all day on that dying seal, while her poor baby eaglets have waited for food (sob)…
    .
    Of course if there is an unusual increase in seal mortality, scientists will want to ask why, and will need samples to do so. But we already know that half of the seals do not survive the first year, and of course older seals die, too.
    .
    There’s this tendency to divide human activity into good and bad, and categorize it as inherently good if its done in the name of a reputable group such as Seal Sitters. But sometimes it’s more complicated than that.
    .
    Bald eagles are scavengers, and dead seals are an important part of their diet, especially here in Puget Sound.

    Comment by community member — 3:24 pm August 5, 2013 #

  8. >> There’s this tendency to divide human activity into good and bad, and categorize it as inherently good if its done in the name of a reputable group such as Seal Sitters. But sometimes it’s more complicated than that.<<

    Yes, and that's putting it nicely.

    WSB seems to have an editorial bias for Seal Sitters. What is your association please.

    Comment by JustAsking — 11:32 am August 6, 2013 #

  9. No association. We cover them and dozens of other nonprofits that do good work in our community – in this case, for those who cannot speak for themselves. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 11:54 am August 6, 2013 #

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