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Field Notes

Covering the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest

July 10, 2013 at 9:00 AM

It’s summertime on the beach for seal pups, too

As the summer beach and boating season revs up,  Robin Lindsey of the Seal Sitters  reminds beach walkers and boaters to turn around and head the other way if they encounter a seal pup on the beach. The pup needs to rest, and its mother is probably nearby fishing. The last thing either of them need is people encroaching on the vulnerable pup, or scaring off the mother. Dogs should be leashed and led away pronto.

Lindsey has too often seen partying boaters endangering young pups. Her blog has some disturbing humanoid behavior to report. Remember, it was the seals’ beach first. And it’s against the law to harass marine mammals. Stay at least 100 yards away if you encounter a pup and urge others to do the same.

Two seal pups nurse from their mother. It's pupping season on Puget Sound beaches. Cute as they are, seal pups should be left alone and given lots of space -- at least 100 yards -- if encountered on the beach.   Photo by Robin Lindsey

Two seal pups nurse from their mother at a South Sound seal haul out. It’s pupping season on Puget Sound beaches. Cute as they are, seal pups should be left alone and given lots of space — at least 100 yards — if encountered on the beach.
Photo by Robin Lindsey

As pupping season gets underway, the Seal Sitters are in full swing. The non-profit’s volunteers cordon off beaches where pups are found, to keep people out of the area until pups returns to water. Or, volunteers will call for professional help if it looks like a rescue is in order. To report an animal in distress at Alki, the Seal Sitter hotline is (206) 905-7325. Here is a link to maps of stranding networks to contact elsewhere in Puget Sound.

Founded in 2007,  Seal Sitters responds to reports of any marine mammal stranded or resting on West Seattle beaches. But more than 80 percent of their work involves the four to eight week old harbor seal pups that show up on local beaches. August is prime pupping time at Alki.

The most abundant marine mammal in the Salish Sea, harbor seals are year round residents in Puget Sound. For more information about sharing the shore with harbor seal pups, here is an excellent hand out from NOAA.

Seal Sitters recently received a $15,000 grant from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods for an educational outreach project, for which the non-profit is still raising money. A  centerpiece of the program is a bronze sculpture and that will be installed at Alki Beach in August.

Sculptor Georgia Gerber, left, and Robin Lindsey of Seal Sitters, with the sculpture in progress. It will be installed at Alki in August. Photo courtesy Robin Lindsay

Sculptor Georgia Gerber, left, and studio assistant Virginia Keck , with the sculpture in progress. It will be installed at Alki in August. Photo by Robin Lindsey

 

The sculpture will be dedicated in September. To learn more about the Year of the Seal outreach project, including visits by Seal Sitters volunteers to area classrooms to talk about preserving marine life, visit the Seal Sitters Web site.

To learn more about habor seals, read my story in the Seattle Times.

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