West Seattle sea life: Keep your distance – it’s the law

(Photo by Robin Lindsey)
It’s a beautiful day on the water and a beautiful day for wildlife watching – if you keep your distance, and that’s a required-by-law 100 yards. Robin Lindsey from Seal Sitters shared the photo and asked us to help get that reminder out – please don’t get so close to those sea-lion-laden buoys on the bay:

It was like a flotilla out there yesterday and lots of watercraft around them today, too. While it is tempting to get closer, people need to remember that all marine mammals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). Sea lions and seals need to rest and regulate their body temperature. That is exactly what a huge Steller sea lion bull and a jostling gang of sea lions, mostly male California sea lions, are doing on the buoys. Our Eastern stock of Stellers are considered “threatened,” while the Western stock that lives in Alaska and Russian waters is indeed “endangered.”

Watercraft violating this federal law are being photographed and the images are being sent to NOAA’s Office for Law Enforcement. A Steller bull is a huge animal, weighing up to a ton, and if provoked could leap off and injure someone. It is only common sense that a kayaker not get within feet of the buoy as they were doing yesterday. Alki Kayak Tours is doing a great job of informing their renters to steer clear of the buoy, but others may not be aware that getting too close not only causes undue stress on the animals, but is a violation of the MMPA and punishable by fine.

We want people to get out on the water and enjoy wildlife – from a respectful distance.

Want to know more about marine mammals? Here’s the Seal Sitters’ resource-links page.

6 Replies to "West Seattle sea life: Keep your distance - it's the law"

  • Cecelia March 31, 2013 (6:22 pm)

    Something I’ve always wondered: Are those buoys there specifically for wildlife or are they there for some other purpose and the seals and sealions just happen to rest on them.

  • Carolyn March 31, 2013 (7:27 pm)

    They are tie up buoys for barges.

  • Eric1 March 31, 2013 (7:34 pm)

    Those were put there to moor barges. I am just glad it isn’t my job to actually touch those buoys after those sea lions slime them up. I would consider that hazard pay.

  • cj April 1, 2013 (1:52 am)

    There are some platforms around here that are put out for resting wild life. I don’t know if that is one of them or not. It really doesn’t matter though harassing wildlife around here is bad mojo, meaning many local residents don’t like it and its against the law so just don’t.

  • ga April 1, 2013 (9:31 am)

    Those look like rental kayaks to me. Doubles with matching paddles and jackets. No excuse for this.

  • SeaLionWoman April 2, 2013 (1:31 pm)

    Clearly the barge operators need to disturb them in order to tie up. Is that written into the law somehow? I agree with the spirit of the law, but the letter of it (100 yards is a *long* way) has always struck me as extreme.

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