WEST SEATTLE WILDLIFE: Seal Sitters update, plus bonus underwater video from “Diver Laura”

(Uno the harbor seal, photographed last week by David Hutchinson)

Have you seen a seal lately? Many have, and Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network is busy. Here’s an update from volunteer David Hutchinson:

While Seal Sitters’ “Blubberblog” site has not been updated recently, due to ongoing technical difficulties, our volunteers have been on duty responding to vulnerable young harbor seals hauled out on West Seattle beaches. Our normal busy season (September – November) was slower than usual but 2018 has started off with a flurry of calls to our Hotline (206-905-7325).

One seal, “Uno,” has accounted for the majority of responses this year. After first coming ashore on January 4th near Colman Pool, Uno has decided that the shoreline of Elliott Bay is her preferred location (you can tell it’s the same harbor seal by comparing the spots on the faces). She has become a familiar sight to passersby who frequently ask our volunteers how Uno is doing that day. Monday, volunteers were stretched thin when two additional young seals came ashore at separate locations in West Seattle.

Responses to these live seals is a positive experience compared to the one-week period in January when we had to deal with three near the north end of Lincoln Park that weren’t as fortunate. One was reported as deceased on the raft at that location, and another dead animal was recovered from Lowman Beach. The third arrived onshore with respiratory distress. After being examined by a NOAA consulting vet, that seal was transported to PAWS, where it later died. All three animals will be necropsied by WDFW.

We have received a number of inquiries about becoming a volunteer. These people will be receiving an email notice when a final date is set. As of now, Seal Sitters plans on holding its next training session in the late spring. Look for an announcement at sealsitters.org.

P.S. Bonus underwater seal video! This is from “Diver Laura” James – not Uno, she says, but another harbor seal, and a very curious one at that:

That’s some of her 360-degree-video equipment; she promises to share its video soon.

18 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE WILDLIFE: Seal Sitters update, plus bonus underwater video from "Diver Laura""

  • Alki Renee February 7, 2018 (7:18 am)

    Absolutely loved the video posted. What a cool encounter. Thanks for sharing!

    on a side note, I wish we had more enforcement to discourage dogs on our beaches. We have parks for them to run freely. Seal pups need to rest and are slow moving when on land. Dog owners (and I’m one of them), please respect our shores.

    • K February 7, 2018 (2:38 pm)

      Agreed, way too many dogs on the beaches.  For some reason they like to walk back and forth from Constellation Park to Cormorant Cove. It doesn’t even make sense because there is hardly any beach but a whole lot of slimy rocks with sharp barnacles and other marine debris that I wouldn’t want my dog walking on.

      We have an otter family that lives by Cormorant and it is difficult for them to head out to the water when the tide is low because we can get a high volume of dogs on the shore. More signage prohibiting dogs down by the water should be posted because I do not think most dog owners realize that bringing their canines down to the beach does have a negative effect on the local marine animals.  

  • just wondering February 7, 2018 (7:49 am)

    Sweet video with the baby seal.  Are they usually that friendly?  Or was it because diver Laura was underwater the seal assumed it was a friend?

    • DiverLaura February 7, 2018 (12:58 pm)

      Thank you all for the kind words! 

      I’d like to think that the pup assumed/knew that I am a friend, but in reality it was more likely that i was an unusual creature underwater that it had not seen before, with a very shiny thing on the end of a stick that was even MORE unusual and curiosity inspiring  :).   
      Possibly the reason it was so interactive beyond just dive bombing us  is that i was swimming very steady and holding quite still because of the 360 array, which made me more approachable than your average diver, but that is just a guess :) 
    • H February 7, 2018 (2:02 pm)

      I’ve not interacted with a baby seal heare while diving. The adults “seem” friendly but in actuality the strong lights needed by divers underwater attract fish so the seals use it to help with hunting. They’re curious but also known to commonly pull off one of your fins and bite (tearing suit kinda bite). Better to look at a bit of a distance – haha!

      • H February 7, 2018 (2:11 pm)

        *here vs heare (see above)

        And you’ll notice the seal appears to be batting at her hand with its flippers… actually, its stabilizing its buoyancy while trying to nibble something on her glove.  Still a wild beastie.

        • H February 7, 2018 (2:24 pm)

          Ha! And I just noticed that it sniffed the pocket attached to her pant leg! Smart seal! Hopefully, that little guy makes it.

        • diverlaura February 7, 2018 (5:55 pm)

          Interestingly enough it never opened its little mouth, it was just ‘boop-ing’ things feeling with whiskers, my hand included.  I agree and thought for a minute that it was trying to stabilize my hand to get a nibble, and i can totally see how it looks, it was more ‘feeling’ and kind of scratching at the different textures.  it didn’t actually grab my hand, just batting at it.  it was fascinated by different ‘things’, different fabrics and materials, different textures.   It did the same thing to the camera array (the grabby thing) and also my fins (how i finally figured out it was back there), but at no point was there anything more than the ‘kiss/boop’.  it really liked the smooth little domes.  

          • H February 7, 2018 (10:53 pm)

            It’s really cool to watch. Clearly I watched your video numerous times and then forwarded the youtube link to my neices and nephews. It looked like lip nibbles but it’s so neat that the seal was so curious and for a pretty long time too. A really good dive :)

  • Gill February 7, 2018 (10:39 am)

    Thank you Laura.  You made my day!

  • Physics Lady February 7, 2018 (12:00 pm)

    Diver Laura – you are AMAZING!

    Thanks for sharing your absolutely lovely video!

  • H February 7, 2018 (2:02 pm)

    Laura, I just love your videos!

  • miws February 7, 2018 (3:22 pm)

    Great underwater video as usual! 

    Thanks, Diver Laura and WSB! 


  • waikikigirl February 7, 2018 (5:42 pm)

    OMG Laura that is just the cutest thing ever!!! 

    And I’m sure he/she knows you are a friend and not a foe, they just know.

  • DD February 7, 2018 (6:11 pm)

    What a sweet encounter  and thank you so much for sharing it with us! A real spirit lifter!

  • Rachel February 7, 2018 (8:16 pm)

    Loved this video! Thanks for posting! 

  • Blinkyjoe February 8, 2018 (8:02 am)

    That vid was fantastic. Laura, you need a show on Nat Geo or Animal Planet. “Our Puget Sound”.  

  • Denise February 8, 2018 (9:21 am)

    Love this video!

    But, I sure hope people realize that baby seals on the beach need to be left alone. 

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