That’s the Steller sea lion who showed up on West Seattle’s shore Wednesday, during a day when a dead California sea lion also drew a lot of attention. David Hutchinson of Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network sent this update (with photos) on their Wednesday responses:
Even though Harbor-seal pupping season is winding down, Seal Sitters had a very busy day yesterday. It started in the morning with a Harbor seal on the beach along the Alki promenade. Juvenile and adult Harbor seals are typically very skittish and choose quiet unoccupied beaches to hang out. After a brief rest, this seal returned to Puget Sound. Next came a report of a sea lion on the rocks along the shore of Elliott Bay near Duwamish Head. Sadly the day ended with a response to a California sea lion carcass that was washing ashore at Lincoln Park.
The sea lion on the rocks was of particular interest, as it turned out to be a live Steller sea lion, which we don’t see very often locally. It’s also very unusual to see any sea lion actually on the shore of West Seattle. I’m sure you’ve noticed all the California sea lions that prefer the tie-up buoys in Elliott Bay. Adult Steller sea lions are huge animals as you can see from the photo below [taken some years back] showing one surrounded by a number of California sea lions.
Yesterday’s Steller has some health issues and Seal Sitters will continue to monitor his condition if he keeps frequenting our local beaches. It’s important to remember that sea lions can be aggressive if ill or injured and can move fast on land. Do not approach if you come across one. To learn more about Steller sea lions check out the following link to NOAA’s fact sheet: fisheries.noaa.gov/species/steller-sea-lion
We want to thank all of you who reported these animals to the Seal Sitters’ Hotline yesterday including reports of the sea lion carcass at Lincoln Park. Seal Sitters depends on the public to let us know the location of any marine mammal you might come across on West Seattle beaches (alive or dead). We can then quickly get a volunteer on site to assess the situation. As a member of NOAA’s West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network, Seal Sitters is authorized to request specialized assistance if necessary from our partners, SR3 (SeaLife Response Rehabilitation and Research, WDFW (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife), and World Vets. Our hotline (206-905-7325) is staffed by volunteer operators from 8 AM – 8 PM, 7 days a week. If calling outside those hours, please leave a detailed message.