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June 1st volunteer training reminder

Don’t forget that the second training session of the season (and most likely final one) for new volunteers is scheduled for Tuesday, June 1st. Click here for details and please RSVP. Current volunteers are welcome to attend as well, space permitting.

Happiness is a warm dock

(please see most recent health update at the end of this post)

A very alert male seal enjoyed the warm sun at the newest pinniped hot spot: the boat ramp. Here he is shown thermoregulating a bit, stretching and curling his flippers and tail. Comparison of markings have identified him as the same seal that had a bloody wound on May 4th. It was not possible today to see the spot where the wound had been located. It is encouraging that he was so animated and appeared generally healthy, but was still a bit too thin (although you’d never guess it from this photo).

Barricades were placed at the entrance to each dock with information about the Marine Mammal Protection Act and seal behavior, warning the public to give him space to rest. We’ll keep an eye out for him tomorrow in hopes of seeing if the wound has fully healed. Should you see him on the ramp or elsewhere on shore, please call dispatch @ 206-905-7325 (SEAL).

(update May 21, 1 pm)
This seal has been returning to the boat ramp for rest over the past two days. There is no longer any evidence of blood on his right hip, so that older wound has apparently healed. There is, however, some blood this afternoon near the joint of his left flipper. It‘s really tough out there for a wild animal - foraging for prey and being a prey animal yourself. All the more reason for people to keep their distance so he can snooze and gain strength. Hopefully, this skinny guy will pack on some pounds!

Seal sunrise

It was a delightful surprise to see a platform full of seemingly plump pinnipeds early this morning, enjoying the warmth of the sun as it crested Admiral hill. Another silver head peeked out of the water every few minutes. Let’s hope these are some healthy seals!

Happy mother's day from Seal Sitters

Early morning wake-up call

On her 6am beach sweep this morning looking for seals, our photographer and first responder was shocked and angered to find Alki Beach by the bathhouse littered with trash. Four barrels were surrounded by garbage - paper plates smeared with ketchup and mustard, cups, plastic bags, plastic forks, plastic coke bottles. Seagulls were picking through the litter trying to find food. Small plastic ketchup packets were strewn over the sidewalk and beach. Our volunteer picked up all the trash that was scattered on the beach and along the water’s edge. The irony did not escape her when she picked up paper wrappers labeled “Spud’s Fish and Chips” on virtually the same spot of beach where our first seal pup, Spud (named for the restaurant), hauled out.

After the high profile and disturbing necropsy of the gray whale whose stomach was filled with human trash (ranging from sweat pants and plastic bags to a golf ball - photo at left), one would hope that it would have been a wake-up call to people of the dangers of polluting our waters - and the tragic impact it has on our marine mammals and other wildlife. Countless sea birds have died worldwide with stomachs full of plastic bottle caps. Litter that is on the sidewalk and beaches blows into Puget Sound and Elliott Bay, becoming marine debris that harms sea life. There is a swirling mass of plastic trash twice the size of Texas in the Pacific ocean, dubbed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Please consider getting involved to help keep our West Seattle beaches and coves free of dangerous litter. Last spring, after reading on our website that seals and other marine mammals ingest plastic bags and suffer an agonizing death, second grader Etienne and her Bush Middle School class organized a beach cleanup field trip to Alki Beach.
Perhaps other local schools would like to follow suit. If you run or walk along Alki with friends, take a few minutes before or after your exercise and pick up some litter. Parks Dept. can only do so much and they don’t have staff on early weekend mornings or in the evenings. If you have a business on Alki (or are involved with a local school or civic group) and would like to work with Seal Sitters to organize “Adopt Alki Beach” for a day a week/month, please contact us. Something needs to be done now to protect our wildlife from pollution.

Marine mammal stranding training begins in May

Dates have been set for two training events:

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010, from 6:30 - 8:30 pm at the Seattle Aquarium (1483 Alaskan Way).
This will be an open region-wide training by Kristin Wilkinson, NOAA stranding expert, in hopes of expanding a volunteer base trained to respond to marine mammals on the beach from South Puget Sound to Snohomish County. If you are interested in responding to marine mammals in areas outside of West Seattle, we suggest you attend this session. Learn about marine mammals in your area and how to report and respond to marine mammal strandings. Seal Sitters will be represented at the event and all are welcome to attend. Questions about this training? Please contact Kristin.

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010, from 6 - 7:30 pm at the West Seattle Admiral branch of the Seattle Library (2306 42nd Ave SW, West Seattle).
This session will be a special training for those wanting to volunteer for Seal Sitters in West Seattle. A multi-media presentation with photos by first responder Robin Lindsey will illustrate our educational work in the community and the particular challenges of protecting seals and seal pups in an urban environment. Zoologist and education and science advisor Buzz Shaw will discuss biology and behavior of seals and other marine mammals of Puget Sound. Learn how to report and respond to strandings. Seating limited to 70 with some standing capacity. Contact us if you have any questions and keep an eye on the blog for updates regarding participants. RSVP here for the West Seattle session.

Kudos to NOAA NW stranding team

“Spud”, his pinniped buds and Seal sitters send huge congratulations to NOAA’s NW stranding experts Kristin Wilkinson, Brent Norberg, and Lynne Barre. They are receiving an award this morning for their marine mammal outreach efforts and are being recognized as outstanding federal employees of 2010. Kudos to this team that has provided such incredible support to Seal Sitters and the marine mammals of West Seattle.

Injured seal seeks safety

An injured seal with a stunning spotted coat sought refuge on the boat ramp for a brief time this afternoon. He was quite alert with reasonably good body weight, but had a bloody wound on his right side. The photos are being analyzed by NOAA and WDFW experts. He returned to the water and Seal Sitters is keeping an eye out for his return. The boat ramp seems to be a busy seal hangout lately. Perhaps it is the easy access to and from the water. If the seal feels threatened, it is a much quicker escape than moving across a beach. Please make sure to call dispatch @ 206-905-7325 (SEAL) should you spot him onshore.
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