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Spike back on shore today

     
Much to the relief of Seal Sitters, Spike hauled out on a private beach this rainy and cold morning. We were able to confirm identity by matching up spot patterns on the face. He is looking a little plumper and is resting comfortably.

Each day that Spike is allowed to gain strength, he has a better chance not only of surviving, but thriving. When weaned pups have such little blubber to sustain them, it is imperative that they spend as much time as necessary on the beach. This assures they are not burning precious calories needed to forage for food. Thanks to the beach residents for calling our dispatch line with the report of this pup. Seal Sitters, as part of the Northwest Stranding Network, plays a vital role in helping NOAA and WDFW monitor the health of our marine mammals. If a seal pup (or adult) hauls out on your property please give us a call.

Seal pup Spike hauls out by the beach volleyball courts

     
Seal pup season is definitely in full swing in West Seattle as another pup, nicknamed Spike, hauled out on the northern end of Alki beach this afternoon. Seal Sitters received a call around 1 pm and immediately established a safe perimeter around the pup. Numerous volunteers helped explain to the public that this was normal behavior for a seal to come onshore to rest and warm up. Spike is yet another tiny pup and a bit too thin. As evening fell, the temperature cooled down and a very rested Spike finally returned to the Sound about 9 pm. Thanks to all the volunteers who put in such long hours today. And thanks to Spike for inspiring some new volunteers to join Seal Sitters this afternoon. Click here to view a gallery of photos from today.

Seal pup scared back into water by canine pup

Seal Sitters dispatch received a call this afternoon about a seal pup on the beach at Lincoln Park, north of Colman Pool. However, minutes later the responding party called back to say a dog scared the pup back into the water. If this was a nursing pup and the mother cannot locate him, the pup will die. We can’t stress enough that people need to keep their dogs leashed at all times. Dogs are not allowed on beaches in Seattle - leashed or unleashed. It is the law and punishable by a $500 fine. Every year harbor seal pups are mauled - and often killed - by dogs. There are very few beaches in our urban area for a pup to haul out and rest without human presence and, too often, interference. Lincoln Park attracts many pups during this season, particularly when small bait fish are running. It is a struggle for these young pups to survive. So, please share the shore, give the pups some space and leash your four-legged friend.

Pup hauls out on windy Alki Beach

     
A pup hauled out around noon today on Alki Beach. Wind and clouds kept crowds to a minimum while the pup rested onshore for over 8 hours. The pup, nicknamed Windy, has an infected wound on the left rear flipper and photos are being analyzed by NOAA and WDFW experts. Harbor seals use their rear flippers for locomotion in the water and the front flippers for steering. Sea lions, on the other hand, are quite the opposite - using their large front flippers to propel them through the water and the rear flippers and tail as a rudder.

We are hoping this wound is not serious enough to affect this little one’s ability to swim and successfully forage for food. Salt water can often heal such wounds and we will keep you posted with updates. The pup gave our photographer a nice yawn so we could see that all of the teeth have erupted. Based on this information, this pup is most likely weaned. Should you see Windy hauled out on one of our beaches, make sure you call Seal Sitters dispatch @ 905-SEAL (7325).

     
At right, volunteer Julie keeps a protective eye on Windy who snuggled next to the sea wall (foreground of photo) as the tide crept in this very brisk evening. It’s not always warm and sunny sitting duty as Julie and the other volunteers for today can attest. Thanks to all for their dedication!

UPDATE 8/27
It has been confirmed that the pup has an infected puncture wound - most likely caused by a bite from a dog or other seal. Remember to keep your dogs leashed at all times. The swelling around the bite is a good thing, meaning that the body’s white blood cells are fighting the infection. Windy’s overall body condition looks pretty good for a newly weaned pup. Our volunteers were out searching for the pup before daylight and throughout the day today, but there were no sightings on the beaches.





Balloons are no party favor for marine mammals

     
During a scan of the beaches looking for seal pups early this morning, our volunteer instead found two balloons tied with long ribbons floating in the surf. This is a reminder to everyone of the dangers of trash in our waters. Balloons are especially harmful - marine mammals mistake them for jellyfish, ingest them and then die a slow and painful death. Please remember if you have a party near the beach, destroy any balloons and dispose of them properly. Never release helium balloons into the sky as they will inevitably end up in the Sound, putting our seals and other animals in grave danger.

Mom and pup nurse on safety of platform

     
A harbor seal mom and her pup have been seen over the past week or so, resting and nursing on a platform offshore in West Seattle. Here, they stretch and warm up in the morning sun following an early nurse. A female seal’s milk is 50% fat - the richest of all mammals - and pups can double their body weight in a couple of weeks. They are nursed for 4-6 weeks before being weaned and on their own.


Lots of blubberballs at a South Puget Sound rookery

     
We thought after the sad outcome of Primo, you might enjoy the latest “rookery report.” As of Friday, Aug 13th, there were at least 110 seal pups at the rookery where the WDFW biologist and our volunteer did observations. Each year, a number of pups are abandoned at the rookeries due to disturbances that separate them from their mothers before they can imprint - disturbances such as boaters getting too close or eagles swooping in for the placenta immediately after birth. Most often these pups die because another seal will not nurse them. However, we were thrilled to see a mom nursing not one, but three pups! In the photo, you can see her in the bottom left corner nursing two, while the third takes a break behind her. Pups of all sizes were crawling, flopping, hopping and swimming around us and calling out “maaaaaaaa.” It was a veritable festival of blubberballs and a joy to behold. Many of these pups are close to being weaned and may be visiting West Seattle sometime soon.

Sad news from the San Juans

     
“When angels fell, some fell on the land, some on the sea.
The former are the faeries, and the latter were often said to be the seals.”
~ anonymous Orcadian

Primo, our little seal angel, died Wednesday at Wolf Hollow on San Juan Island. She survived the plane trip, but was just too thin and weak to make it through the night. Primo had exhausted her entire fat store in a determined effort to make it on her own. We will not soon forget her spirit.

Seal pup Primo flying to the San Juan Islands

     
Seal Sitters is elated to share the news that our little pup Primo is winging her way to the San Juans as we speak. With the authorization of NOAA, SS volunteers removed Primo from the beach at 6:45 this morning. She spent the entire night on the beach tucked behind a log. Volunteers checked on her throughout the night and were on the scene before daylight. Primo was driven to PAWS where she was quickly evaluated by their staff.

As of last evening, it was determined she would most likely need to be euthanized this morning. Volunteers were disheartened at her downturn yesterday afternoon and evening, though we tried our best to keep our hopes up and remain positive. As many of you know, seal pups only have about a 50% survival rate. She had been thin from the very day she hauled out on the south end of Alki Beach, but was excruciatingly thin yesterday. It was obvious that Primo was in a serious situation. Kristin Wilkinson (NOAA) and Dyanna Lambourn (WDFW) began to put things into motion late yesterday to see what steps could be taken to help Primo.

Upon Primo’s arrival at PAWS this morning, she (yes, our first pup is a little girl) exhibited some feisty behavior that led the team to think that she might be able to survive. She was severely dehydrated so they stabilized her with fluids and a dextrose solution. She had no lesions in her mouth, but did have an exposed opening where the umbilicus had been attached. Since this is a vulnerable spot for pups to get deadly infections, she was immediately started on antibiotics. She weighed just over 13 lbs. The typical weight of a newborn seal is 18-26 pounds, which gives an idea of how thin she truly was. Her age is estimated to be 2-3 weeks old. There are many scenarios as to why she would be alone without a mother to nurse her. Upon hearing that Primo had a chance, Kristin put the wheels in motion for possible transport to Wolf Hollow on San Juan Island. Kenmore Air donated a flight in order to help save her. The good news is that Primo now has a fighting chance to survive.

Please donate generously to PAWS and Wolf Hollow. They are the only rehab facilities in the entire state of Washington for seal pups. They are privately funded and the cost of rehabbing a seal pup is extraordinary. Our deepest thanks to Kenmore Air for making sure Primo made the 12:30 flight.

As always, Seal Sitters is so incredibly grateful to our support team of Kristin and Dyanna who always go the extra mile for us. Thanks to our many dedicated volunteers and to the very concerned and caring public who watched over Primo the past few days. Please keep an eye on the blog where we will post updates on her condition. And keep Primo in your thoughts as she is not out of the woods and the next hours are critical.

Primo wins friends on Alki

     
Primo hauled out on the sandy beach around 1 pm this afternoon and stayed til late tonight. He was looking thinner today and a bit less active, however, he was aware of the crowd of people who were enthralled with his tiny presence. Volunteers informed many people about seal pups and their need to rest. They learned that it is an especially critical period as they go through the weaning process. Pups burn through the fat store that sustains them during this transition from nursing to foraging on their own.

     
Children and adults alike were fascinated by this adorable pup. Shown at left are four of the five young people who defended a seal in trouble last year. And now, they are our newest Seal Sitters!









Pup shows up again on Alki Beach

     
Our beautiful little pup Primo showed up again this morning on a private stretch of Alki Beach. He was very alert and a concerned group of homeowners was keeping a collective eye on him. That’s poop on his side, which is a good thing - it means he did have something to eat! Thankfully, it was a drizzly morning and very few people were strolling the beach, although there were five dogs off leash. Please remember that it is the law that all dogs must be on a leash. Every year dogs maul seal pups - much to the horror of the dog owner.

Primo decided it was time to head back to the water and made the long crawl closer to the water’s edge. There he rested for about an hour before swimming off around 11:30 am. He will most likely surface later today as he is terribly thin and needs lots of rest. Check back for a video clip of Primo.

UPDATE 9:54pm
     
Primo resurfaced mid-afternoon at the north end of Alki Beach where he stayed late into the evening. As the sun came out, more and more people strolled the sidewalk and gathered above him. Unfortunately, all of the activity scared him back into the water around 4pm, but he returned to the same spot a bit later. When Seal Sitters taped off the area above him, people were very respectful of his need to snooze and stayed back a safe distance. Primo’s an alert and active pup which is a very good sign considering how thin he is. He will probably haul out again tomorrow.

Pup season has officially begun in West Seattle

The first pup of our season arrived last night on Alki Beach just south of Cactus restaurant. Seal Sitters received a call (thanks, Joan and friend) about a tiny pup on the beach with some children too close to him. We arrived on scene minutes after the call and did a quick assessment of the pup - very small and thin. We determined it was best not to tape him off as it would attract unnecessary attention to his presence. The pup, nicknamed Primo because he’s our first pup, was quite alert and aware of the noise from the few people walking by along the bulkhead. Before the beach descended into total darkness, he yawned and our photographer was able to get a shot of his teeth. We can get an idea if the pup is weaned or still nursing based on the number of teeth that have erupted. This pup had a fair number of erupted teeth, but not all of them. Based on his lack of fat, perhaps he was weaned a bit on the early side. However, that is strictly a guess on our part and we are awaiting comments from the WDFW biologist. Photos of Primo were sent late last night. If there is a mom out there, she is not doing the best job of nourishing this little one. According to the biologist’s observations at the rookeries, first time moms aren’t always so successful at motherhood. Volunteers watched over him til late last night.

We will update as information comes in regarding this pup, who was not on the beaches as of first light this morning. Our volunteers did an extensive search of all the beaches and there was no sign of him. However, there was a very small seal and larger one on the platform at the south end of the beach (aka Joy D platform). A heron scared them into the water before we could get an identification photo. If you walk Alki Beach today, please keep your eyes open for this little pup and call us if you spot him.

Female California sea lion "hangs out" in Nisqually

     
Many thanks to Dyanna Lambourn, Marine Mammal Research Biologist for WDFW, for sharing this hilarious photo of a female California sea lion (photo at right). Typically, we have no female CA sea lions in Puget Sound as they do not migrate. However, for the past four years or so this female has called South Puget Sound her home. Dyanna writes, “I think all of you have heard me talk about an adult female CA sea lion that has made the green Nisqually buoy her residence over at least the last 4 summers. Well, over the winter the buoy was replaced by a channel marker. I resighted her up at the Toliva Schoal Red buoy earlier in June with an adult male CA and a sub-adult Steller, but had not seen her since. Well, it appears she prefers to hang out at Nisqually.”

No worries about the sea lion, who is fine - she had just climbed onto the channel marker at high tide and then rested as the tide rolled out and then back in. 
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