If you see a seal on the beach – keep your distance, for their sake. David Hutchinson of Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network sent this report and photos after another rescue:
Seal Sitters MMSN responded Wednesday to the second orphaned harbor seal pup in the last 2 weeks. This thin pup was first reported in the morning on private property along Beach Drive SW. He returned to the water early in the afternoon and just after 5 PM, Seal Sitters’ Hotline received a call about a pup on Alki Beach at 55th Ave SW. Spot comparison photos confirmed that this was the same animal.
A perimeter was set up to keep people back and First Responders monitored the tiny pup while answering the many questions from folks out enjoying the sunny day. The pup stayed ashore only briefly, but returned to the beach around 7 PM. He was observed at that time to be very lethargic with tremors. Phone calls were placed to NOAA’s regional stranding coordinator to see what options were available to rescue the pup from this dangerous location and stabilize overnight. When the incoming tide began to roll the weakened pup in the surf, he was removed from the water by the Seal Sitters’ First Responder and placed above the high tide line. NOTE: Only authorized members of NOAA’s Marine Mammal Stranding Network are allowed to handle seal pups.
Casey Mclean, SR3 Executive Director and Veterinary Nurse, agreed to come for an evaluation and removal from the beach. The pup weighed 8 kg (17.6 lbs). His glucose level was very low, he was dehydrated and was suffering from hypothermia. A small umbilical stump was noted and age estimated at a week or so. Casey began some preliminary treatment including starting fluids. If this pup survives, it is hoped that he can be transferred to one of the scarce rehabilitation spots that are available.
Harbor seal birthing season is from late June through September in our area of Puget Sound. These pups would normally spend from 4-6 weeks nursing before having to face life on their own. About 50% don’t make it through their first year.
Seal Sitters would like to thank the individuals who reported this struggling animal to our Hotline. We have had to adjust some of our normal procedures because of the COVID-19 restrictions, but will be doing our best to respond to your calls.
Based on the urban location, it is highly likely this newborn seal was abandoned due to human activity. Always stay back when you see a seal pup on the beach and call Seal Sitters’ Hotline at 206-905-7325 (SEAL).
Here’s the report on last month’s rescue.