FOLLOWUP: What’s next after dead sea lion removed from West Seattle shore

From David Hutchinson of Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network tonight, the photo and more information on Tuesday’s sea lion removal and necropsy on the West Seattle shore:

Seal Sitters would like to thank Seattle Parks for their participation in the removal of the deceased California Sea Lion from the shoreline yesterday. They moved the carcass from Cove #3, along Harbor Avenue, over to the Don Armeni boat ramp where Casey Mclean of SR3 performed a limited necropsy due to the advanced stage of decomposition. Parks’ staff has arranged for the disposal of the carcass now that the necropsy has been completed. Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network had been tracking the location of this dead animal as well as another that had floated up on Port of Seattle property last Saturday.

Yesterday was a busy day for Seal Sitters. As well as coordinating and assisting at the necropsy site, our volunteers responded to a dead harbor seal pup on the other side of the West Seattle peninsula and watched over a live pup resting on the rocks along the Elliott Bay shoreline. Seal Sitters responds to all reports of marine mammals on West Seattle beaches – alive or dead. Please contact our Hotline (206-905-7325) if you observe any of these while out on local beaches. Our volunteers are on duty to protect any live animals and are responsible for entering details about any dead ones in NOAA’s online database.

We asked a followup about whether the necropsy had revealed anything about why the sea lion died: “All we can say at this point is that the sea lion was robust. Due to the very advanced decomposition after being dead for several weeks or more, the necropsy was much more limited than if the animal was fresh dead. The skull was removed and taken for x-rays.” They’ll report back if those show anything.

2 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: What's next after dead sea lion removed from West Seattle shore"

  • John October 17, 2019 (6:43 am)

    Do they bury it or drop back into ocean? Circle of life.

    • Lynn Shimamoto October 17, 2019 (12:09 pm)

      The circle of life is hard to complete in our urban environment. Leaving a dead animal to decompose naturally creates a health hazard for beachgoers, and large carcasses don’t stay buried on the beach once king tides and winter storms arrive.  Towing and sinking require an EPA permit and a laborious process to ensure that carcasses don’t refloat and create a boating hazard.  Often the remains must be taken to landfill or rendering plants.  

      We have heard complaints about the stench and look of dead animals on the beach.  The sea lion stranded on Saturday morning when most Parks and state employees were on their weekend break.  They acted quickly once they found out about the carcass. Kudos to Carol Baker and her crew for removing it efficiently while also giving Seal Sitters and SR3 time to perform a crucial exam.
      Lynn Shimamoto, Seal Sitters

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