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Seal Sitters making a splash in the news

Seal Sitters founding members Brenda Peterson and Dr. Toni Frohoff have been receiving international media attention these past few months. Brenda’s new memoir I Want to be Left Behind: Finding Rapture Here on Earth has been named to the Indie best books of 2010 list. Brenda will be reading from her book at several Puget Sound locations. Toni has recently been all over the magazine media, featured in articles in the New York Times magazine, Discovery Channel magazine and many more. Read more about their latest successes.

Have tape, will travel

Seal Sitters provides response to special situations in other Puget Sound neighborhoods when time and staff permit. We have responded to strandings where there was limited or no local support, such as Burien, Des Moines, Tacoma, Bainbridge Island and Discovery and Carkeek Parks in Magnolia (where a volunteer spent several hours Sunday evening protecting a pup from people and dogs). Yesterday was yet another such response, as SS received a call from a Magnolia veterinary clinic reporting a pup on a Ballard beach. Apparently the pup had been hauled out for two days and was listless. SS responded, taped off the beach access with “protected marine mammal” tape, observed the pup and sent assessment photos to NOAA. The pup had a beautiful golden coat with virtually no spots, was thin but alert. No evidence of discharge was seen. The lion-coated pup was nicknamed “Nala” by our responder, meaning “gift” in Swahili. SS awaits assessment from NOAA regarding this pup.

If you would like SS and NOAA to help you develop a stranding group in your area, please contact us. We would be more than happy to share our learning experience and insights.

Sick seal pup rests today

This morning a routine early beach sweep by Seal Sitters revealed a small pup that had just hauled out to rest onshore. The pup exhibited symptoms of an infection with a significant green discharge from the right ear. NOAA’s stranding expert was contacted and it was determined to observe the pup throughout the day. The pup, however, returned to the Sound about two hours later. Photos showing close-ups of the face as well as body structure were sent to NOAA and WDFW for examination.

At approximately 1pm this afternoon, SS dispatch received a report of a pup on a stretch of nearby beach. Volunteers arrived on the scene to keep people away on a busy, cold and sunny afternoon. The pup, nicknamed “Ozzie” by volunteers, returned to the water at 4pm. Photos have positively identified the pup as the same one observed earlier this morning. SS will check the beaches at first light to see if the pup appears again tomorrow and await the diagnosis from Fish & Wildlife biologists.

Helping hand?

Seal Sitters is seeking a grant to help fund our work protecting the seals and educating the public. If you feel that we have been an asset and have added value to the West Seattle community, could you please email us your thoughts? Testimonials regarding our work could be very helpful in securing those much-needed funds for operating expenses and equipment! We look forward to seeing you on the beach!

Sea lion on beach resident's bulkhead

Seal Sitters received a call around 5 pm yesterday that a California seal lion was hauled out on a Beach Drive resident’s bulkhead. SS responded, however, due to darkness there was no positive id to confirm whether the male was the same as reported on another beach last week. The sea lion, nicknamed “Buddha” by the homeowner Tanya, returned to the water sometime between 3:30 and 6:30 this morning. SS will keep an eye out for him as should the public. At the very least, we have one adult sea lion hauling out on our beaches and possibly two. Remember that sea lions are much more agile on land than harbor seals, so please keep your distance and call SS dispatch @ 206-905-7325 (SEAL).

SS gives presentation to Merrill Garden residents

Seal Sitters gave a slide presentation this morning to the enthusiastic residents of Merrill Gardens retirement facility on California Ave SW. Special thanks to Kristin Wilkinson of NOAA for joining us and answering questions from the audience (as well as providing a much-needed projector). We greatly enjoyed meeting everyone and hope the residents’ trip to the aquarium tomorrow morning is enhanced after learning about the marine mammals of Puget Sound.

If you would like to have SS talk to your group or class, please contact us.

California sea lion on WS beach

A male California sea lion estimated to be at least 10 years of age appeared on a private stretch of West Seattle beach this afternoon. After receiving a call from a concerned resident, NOAA contacted Seal Sitters who responded to the scene.

Photos and video were emailed to Fish & Wildlife’s expert biologist for analysis. The sea lion is determined to be underweight (excess skin folds); an adult male should weigh upwards of 1200 lbs in prime health. Other indications lead the biologist to believe that the sea lion could be in failing health. SS and beach residents will monitor him if he remains on the beach, but his extreme bulk creates problems as far as treatment for any illness. He was nicknamed “Big Roy” by Deborah, the reporting party. Please check this blog for updates on his condition.

Unlike harbor seals, sea lions are able to move very efficiently and quickly on land because they can use all four flippers for locomotion. Consequently, one should never approach too closely - and most especially if the animal is unpredictable due to disorientation and mental confusion.

Read more about sea lions on our website.

Seal Sitters on alert for sick adult seal

Seal Sitters responded to a call about an adult seal on the beach New Years Day. The seal was exhibiting convulsive behavior which was recorded on video and sent to NOAA and Fish and Wildlife. Due to the holiday, there was limited response available to evaluate and relocate the seal for treatment; however, motions were put into action to do so the following day.

Seal Sitters volunteers kept watch over the seal on a very blustery and rainy afternoon. He exhibited more normal behavior with less tremors as the afternoon wore on. The seal returned to the water when the high tide swept over him. Assessment of the video has determined that the seal may be suffering from neurological problems. Please help SS keep an eye out for him. Report any seal on the beach immediately to dispatch @ 206-905-7325 (SEAL).

Pup has long snooze on beach steps

Yesterday, at approximately 9:30 am, Seal Sitters received a call regarding a seal pup on the stairs at Alki Beach across from Starbucks. A volunteer immediately responded and established a protective barrier around the pup. At the same time, our volunteer coordinators swung into action and lined up volunteers for shifts.

The pup was in a secure spot and quite visible to onlookers. A number of volunteers participated, keeping people at bay and informing them about seals' needs to “haul out” and rest. Volunteers on the beach received an extra treat - witnessing the orca “J” pod feeding near Vashon Island and a fishing eagle just yards offshore! The pup seemed healthy with clear eyes and nostrils, although a series of coughing spells late in the afternoon were of concern. The pup returned to the water as an extremely high tide swept over the steps.

This is not the first time that a pup has chosen the beach steps to rest. When the tide is in and there is no beach, the pups seem to like the easy access of the steps at high tide - though it is not quite as easy to exit down the steps when the tide is out. The unusually high tides and winter storms of late leave so much beach debris that it is difficult for a pup (or adult) to maneuver onto a small stretch of sand. Additionally, they can get injured from the swirling logs and other debris.

As darkness set in, the pup was reported at two other sets of steps heading north. He/she was last seen at the boathouse. SS is keeping an especially alert eye out for the pup in case the coughing is indicative of a health issue. The pup was nicknamed "Eli". Photo by SS volunteer Ken Allen.
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