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Be on the alert for newborn: pupping season has begun in area

It is official: harbor seal pupping season is now underway in the inside waters of South Puget Sound. A lanugo pup was reported in the Gig Harbor area, but sadly had to be euthanized today. The long, wavy white lanugo coat is usually shed in the womb and indicates a premature birth. It is not known whether the presence of so many people around this pup caused abandonment by the mom or if there was another cause. Please remember to STAY AWAY from any pup resting on shore, keep dogs leashed at all times on or near the beach and call the stranding network for the area. Click the links for a map of stranding networks in the Pacific Northwest: Washington map | Oregon map

Yesterday afternoon Seal Sitters responded to a report from a kayaker of a woman harassing a seal at Constellation Park. He warned the woman, who was trying to force the seal back into the water, to stop and get back. Our responder was on the scene within minutes, finding an adult seal alone at the water’s edge. It was obvious that the seal had serious health issues. Shortly after consulting by phone with WA Department of Fish and Wildlife’s marine mammal biologist, the female seal died. Volunteers carried the 125 lb body across the long stretch of beach up into the woody debris. Since the biologist would not be able to pick the animal up for necropsy until this morning, the seal was packed in ice and volunteers built a small shelter of wood to keep the blistering sun at bay.

The seal was picked up this morning and taken for necropsy by WDFW. This evening we received the sad news from biologist Dyanna Lambourn that the small female, estimated to be around 4-6 years old, was postpartum, having given birth about two days ago. The cause of death was undetermined, however, she had an infected uterus. Sterile brain tissue samples were sent to Washington DC for tests.

It is conceivable the female gave birth somewhere in West Seattle or nearby. We are asking all waterfront property owners and those who walk along the beach to please be on the alert for a newborn pup. A pup can live for about a week and a half without nourishment from the mother. Call Seal Sitters hotline @ 206-905-7325 (SEAL) immediately if you see any marine mammal, dead or alive, on shore.

We still have a number of last year’s pups, now close to a year old and called yearlings, using Lincoln Park and the Alki platforms (including one very chubby one at Constellation Park on Sunday), so a pup you see may not necessarily be a newborn or recently weaned pup from this 2013 season. Please, however, call us asap regarding any pups you see on the beach, staying well back to avoid stressing out the animal or scaring him back into the water.

NOTE: We heard reports (unfortunately too late) of a mom and pup at Lincoln Park on Sunday. If you were one of the many folks who were taking photos, please email us so we can verify if it was truly a mother with a newborn pup and, if so, to identify them.
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