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Savvy seal escapes transient orcas, hops on whale-watching boat

Things have been pretty quiet on the pinniped front here in West Seattle. Our pups are due to arrive late July and September, though we could be surprised with early pups. We thought, however, that you might enjoy this story of one very smart seal who leapt aboard a whale-watching boat in the San Juans to escape becoming lunch for the transient orcas. Our resident orcas don’t eat the seals that live in our waters. But the transient killer whales that visit Puget Sound definitely have seals on their menu. And our seals are smart enough to know the difference. In fact, studies have shown that NW seals can discern the different vocalizations of the residents and transients. When they recognize the sounds of the visiting orcas, their behavior changes radically as they become targets for the visiting pods. See our website for more local and international news stories about seals.

New volunteers experience on-the-beach training

Twenty-three new volunteers attended an on-the-beach training at Alki Beach this morning where we simulated a seal sitting situation. Volunteers learned the basics of establishing a perimeter with barebones tape and stakes - as well as ways for creative and impromptu use of found materials and existing items on the beach (such as logs and garbage cans). We fielded some great questions and hope it was enlightening for all! There was lengthy discussion about the importance of the work we do - and how to most effectively educate the public about pups and their need for protection on our urban beaches. Rachel Mayer of the Sno-King Stranding Network helped lead the training. A second on-the-beach session will be scheduled in late July. Announcements will be sent out to all volunteers when the date has been determined.

Whale talk at Duwamish tribal longhouse

The Whale Trail is sponsoring a presentation by John Calambokidis, renowned marine mammal biologist and founder of Cascadia Research on Thursday, June 17th at 7pm. John recently conducted the necropsy on the gray whale that stranded on Arroyo Beach in West Seattle. According to Donna Sandstrom, the talk will focus on the recovery and recent studies of the larger whales in the region, including the recent gray whale strandings in Puget Sound. Kathy Fletcher, Executive Director of People for Puget Sound, will give an update on the health of Puget Sound and efforts towards its recovery. The talk will be held at the Duwamish Tribal Longhouse with a suggested donation of 5$. Advance tickets are available online here. Seal Sitters will have a table at the event.

Vanishing act - the fine art of camouflage

Like many wild animals, the spotted coats of seals are part of nature’s grand design to blend them in with their environment - and protect them from predators. Click here to view more pinnipeds in disguise. However, when it comes to the ultimate in animal camouflage, check out this video about the amazing transformations of the octopus!

Platform full of pinnipeds

      The Alki Beach platform (aka, the Joy D) has been full of seals the past week - four are shown here (three yearlings with one adult), but as many as five have been hauled out at times. These plump yearlings look like they have learned good fishing skills. The adults seem to be on the skinny side this season, however. If you are interested in securing a platform refuge off your waterfront property, please contact us for information.

Great turnout for training event

Thanks to everyone who came to Seal Sitters’ training last night - over 70 people attended. Thanks, also, to the Admiral Branch Library for providing such a great meeting space and to the staff for being so understanding as we ran a bit late. We have a fantastic group of dedicated volunteers and are excited to have even more join us in our quest to help protect “Spud” and his buds.
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