(Photo by David Hutchinson)
Banners are up along Alki to ensure you know that, as Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network‘s Robin Lindsey reminds us, “We are now in the throes of harbor seal pupping season.” And with that, Robin shares four updates/reminders, including the banners’ installation, but beginning with the loss of a pup last weekend:
****Area rookeries are bustling with seal pups, a good majority of them now weaned. These pups are striking out on their own and Seal Sitters has responded to 5 pups in the past week in 5 different locations here in West Seattle.
(Photo by Robin Lindsey)
As usual, the pups have been thin. Sadly, seal pup “H2Otis” (above), who spent Saturday evening and Sunday morning at Emma Schmitz Viewpoint, had to be taken to PAWS Wildlife Center but died en route. The pup had multiple bite wounds to the head and flippers, but the species of animal that inflicted the bites could not be determined in the necropsy. The wounds were not the cause of death. He was much thinner than we realized due to difficulty of a visual assessment.
We cannot stress enough that each year, seal pups are mauled and killed by off-leash dogs in Puget Sound. Off-leash dogs were on the beach just before “H2Otis” came ashore (we do not believe he was bitten at Emma Schmitz on Saturday night) and have been there each day since. We ask dog owners to please respect wildlife and understand that even the most well-behaved dog can be unpredictable and cause terrible harm.
****Seal Sitters MMSN, as a member in good standing of NOAA’s West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network, has just renewed our contract with NOAA to respond to live and dead marine mammals from Brace Point through the Duwamish River (including Harbor Island). This contract gives us the authority to close off public access and establish necessary perimeters to protect both marine mammals and the public at large. All marine mammals are protected from harassment by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Violations will be documented and reported to NOAA’s Office for Law Enforcement (OLE) and WA Department of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement for prosecution.
We would like to note as well that boarders, kayakers and boaters need to stay an appropriate distance (100 yards) from the mid-channel Elliott Bay buoys when sea lions are present. In addition to the California sea lions that are now returning to the area, these haul-out sites are occasionally used by Steller sea lions, both protected by the MMPA. Violations are being documented and turned over to NOAA’s OLE.
Included as a requirement of this contract is to examine dead marine mammals and enter documentation into NOAA’s national database. We ask residents to please call Seal Sitters’ hotline @ 206-905-SEAL (7325) if there is a live or dead marine mammal on public or private beaches.
****Thursday, Seattle Parks employees hung 10 “Share the Shore” banners (top photo), featuring an illustration of a harbor-seal pup, along Alki Beach. The banners are displayed annually on light poles stretching from the Bathhouse to Duke’s Chowder House. The graphics are intended to raise awareness that September and October are the high season months for harbor seal pups to seek refuge on our shores. Read more here.
****Lastly, our usual reminder that if you see a harbor seal on the beach, stay back, keep people and dogs away and call our hotline at 206-905-SEAL (7325). Undisrupted rest is critical to a seal pup’s survival – and, as proven by the unexpected demise of “H2Otis,” it is a fragile existence at best.