Don’t touch marine mammals! Reminder from Seal Sitters after troubling report of Lincoln Park incident

From Seal SittersRobin Lindsey:

Seal Sitters’ hotline received a call last evening that two women (with illegally
off leash dogs on the beach) at Lincoln Park picked up a harbor seal pup and moved the animal. By the time we received the call the pup had left the beach. Apparently there were a number of people who told the women it was the law to stay back and not touch the pup – information which they disregarded. The pup was close to our beach signage at the north end of the Park which also has the number of our stranding hotline.

Seal Sitters would like to remind people that all marine mammals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act which prohibits touching, feeding, moving and disturbance. Violations such as the one reported last night can be prosecuted by NOAA Office for Law Enforcement punishable with a substantial fine and, if the infraction is severe enough, jail time.

I personally find it hard to believe that an approximately 7 month old pup would allow anyone to pick him up unless he was sick or injured. This is all the more reason the women should have called Seal Sitters’ hotline at 206-905-7325 (SEAL) in case the animal needed to be transported to rehab for stabilization and treatment.

We have had an unusually quiet off season with very few weaned pups coming ashore. They are more often using the offshore platforms to rest – which is obviously much safer from harassment by people and dogs.

Harbor seal pupping season is just now beginning on the outer coast of Southern Washington and Northern Oregon. Please be aware as you walk coastal beaches and if you see a pup alone on the beach, stay back and give the animal space so the mom will not abandon her newborn.

Seal Sitters thanks the residents of West Seattle for their support in helping to keep marine mammals safe in our area. If you see a seal pup on the beach, please call our hotline immediately.

23 Replies to "Don't touch marine mammals! Reminder from Seal Sitters after troubling report of Lincoln Park incident"

  • Cycleman April 21, 2014 (1:47 pm)

    Those women probably didn’t know not to touch the seals and were just trying to help by putting it back in the water. No harm no foul

  • Kravitz April 21, 2014 (2:12 pm)

    @Cycleman – you’re probably correct regarding what the women were trying to do, but incorrect about the ‘no harm no foul.’ If this seal pup was resting on the beach due to illness or injury, putting it back in the water could contribute to more stress or fatigue on the animal. Lastly, we need more Animal Control officers on the beach to make sure people leash their pets. As a responsible dog owner, as much as I would love to watch my pup run free and get his ‘crazy’ on at the beach, I know that the leash law protects my dog, other animals, and other people from accidents. When are people going to realize that the leash laws are actually for everyone’s best interest?

  • Harm and Foul April 21, 2014 (2:14 pm)

    Ummm… I believe that the no touch rule is because it causes harm for the seal pup to be handled and is therefore a foul.

  • Elizagrace April 21, 2014 (2:25 pm)

    Cycleman – I wish it could be that they were trying to help – but it is stated that multiple people told them it was illegal to touch the seals and they did so anyway…also, the pup was close to the signage that tells people not to touch them.

    It is in fact not “no harm no foul”.

    We do not know what the exact harm is of this foul.

  • Greg April 21, 2014 (2:25 pm)

    They could probably help more by obeying leash laws and not bringing their dog to a Seattle beach.

    Most dog owners who bring their dogs to the beach know the laws but disregard them using their own justifications.

  • KBear April 21, 2014 (2:28 pm)

    Wrong, Cycleman. Touching seal pups is a violation of federal law. Did you even read the article? It IS harmful, and people who use the beach are responsible for knowing and following the rules.

  • pupsarebest April 21, 2014 (2:44 pm)

    Ignorance of the law is a generous take on this incident, but at the very least, surely these people knew of the law regarding leashing dogs.
    Even a leashed dog is prohibited on the beach.

  • Jeannie April 21, 2014 (3:25 pm)

    These women are idiots. Even if they were ignorant of the law, they should have obeyed when other people asked them to stop. And the dogs on the beach just adds insult to injury. When I see that, I call Animal Control – violators are subject to a hefty fine.

  • WSExpat April 21, 2014 (3:41 pm)

    Among the “number of people” who told the women to stay back and not touch the pup was there at least one who used a smart phone to snap their picture? These arrogant knuckleheads need to be named and shamed.

  • Ray April 21, 2014 (3:46 pm)

    In the future, take pictures of the people with your phone cameras and report them to the authorities.

  • waterworld April 21, 2014 (3:46 pm)

    I agree that Cycleman’s interpretation of the law here is completely wrong. There are both civil and criminal penalties under the Marine Mammal Protection Act for harassing or disturbing these seal pups. A person who picks up and moves a resting pup may be liable for a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each incident, regardless of what the person thought she was doing at the time.
    In addition, it is a federal misdemeanor to knowingly violate the Act, punishable with up to a year in custody and a fine of up to $20,000. “Knowing” in this context does not mean that the person “knew” she was violating the law or doing something wrong; it means simply that she “knew” she was moving the animal.
    And unless I am mis-remembering, there are signs at the beach at Lincoln Park, warning visitors not to disturb seal pups on the beach.

  • flimflam April 21, 2014 (4:23 pm)

    ugh. so many levels of irritation here.

    A) will you people leash your freaking dogs

    B) what kind of moron goes picking up baby seals, especially when there are signs and apparently numerous people telling you “don’t touch”?


  • Community Member April 21, 2014 (5:21 pm)

    Has anyone out of the “number of people” posted that they actually saw this event, or called WSB to share what they witnessed? Did anyone call law enforcement? (Seal sitters is not) Photos would be great, but even without photos it would be interesting if a witness to the event would post that they saw this crime. Robin’s own statement includes the words, “I personally find it hard to believe that…”, which reminds me that I am reading not about a crime, or even a crime report, but about what someone said in a phone call.

  • metrognome April 21, 2014 (7:13 pm)

    our community leaders haven’t always been good examples; maybe they were children in 1940 when Ivar was wheeling Patsy the Seal around in a baby carriage …

  • Rumbles April 21, 2014 (7:21 pm)

    The off leash dogs at parks and on the beach has really gotten out of control. I’m amazed the dogs didn’t harm the seal, even if my accident. Last weekend as I drove by Fairmount Park there were half a dozen off leash dogs running around. No one seems to care….

  • Mike April 21, 2014 (8:41 pm) more info there

  • Jeannie April 21, 2014 (11:27 pm)

    Rumbles, we do care, but sometimes we feel powerless. At the very least, please call Animal Control. 206-386-7387. Put that number on your smartphone. And yes, make it very clear to these idiots that you’re calling the authorities. Be relentless. Be persistent. And, indeed, take a picture.

  • AM April 22, 2014 (9:30 am)

    this makes my blood boil. I can’t stand people who think leash laws “don’t apply to their dog,” and i can’t stand people who think it’s ok to touch/move/harass baby seals trying to rest on the beach. I suppose what it boils down to is stupidity. I hate stupidity…. It’s a shame there are no photos.
    Thanks to the people who tried their best to stop the dumb ladies at the park.

  • ScubaFrog April 22, 2014 (2:36 pm)

    I believe that touching a baby seal may scare off the mother in some instances – Don’t touch them (and as stated, it’s a federal crime). In fact just being in close quarters with a baby seal may scare off the mother. Don’t try to feed it. Don’t try to ‘warm it up’ if you see one shivering. If it’s shivering, it’s likely scared of you. Leave it alone and contact Seal Sitters AND the Humane Society AND Animal Control. Put your dogs on leashes and leave wildlife alone for heaven’s sake.

    One has to question the two women’s intellectual capacities. Dogs off leashes… picking up wild animals…

  • Jason April 22, 2014 (6:44 pm)

    Is it me, or is it hypocritical that Ms. Lindsey always states how illegal it is to disturb the seals in any matter, yet she has a plethora of photographs of seals that are looking DIRECTLY into her camera???
    Before you say she used a zoom lens, etc. let’s remember that many times she has stated that almost ANY type of human disturbance or interference is considered a “take”, in her words.
    Let me ask you this, Ms. Lindsey: If you saw -me- taking the type of photos of seals that you have, zoom lens or otherwise, what would you tell me? Keep shooting?? I doubt it. If the seal is looking directly into your lens, as in many of your photos they are, you’ve obviously caught it’s attention and “disturbed” it according to your own rules.

  • Wow April 22, 2014 (7:51 pm)

    Jason yes you are allowed to take pictures from a distance. I have seen many take pictures from behind the caution tape laid out by Seal Sitters, I have seen Ms Lindsey do this as well. When ever I see a seal being watched over by Seal Sitters I have seen the volunteers welcome the public to view quietly most just have their camera phones with them and they get a decent shot. Ms Lindsey’s photos are also used to ID the seal so it can be watched over a period of time to see if it is doing well. You seem bitter, are your photos not as good? Ask Ms Lindsay what kind of camera and lens she uses maybe you can get one like hers. If you want to spend more time watching the seals sign up to volunteer to watch them I am sure if you are around them as much as Ms Liindsey is you will capture them looking into your lens.

  • Fregirl April 22, 2014 (8:03 pm)

    Robin is a trained professional photographer and veteran of the Marine mammal stranding network. I have watched her photograph seals and she is usually so far away it is ridiculous. She has amazing pro equipment. She photographs for beauty yes, but also for record keeping, tracking, and research to help protect these awesome creatures. What is with the hate here to someone who has dedicated such vast portions of her life to protection of marine mammals and keeping our beach here and the sound healthy for people and animals alike?

  • miws April 22, 2014 (8:34 pm)

    Is it me….


    Yes, Jason, it is you….



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