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Madison Middle School raises pennies for Seal Sitters

Seal Sitters is proud to announce that we are the recipients of a Penny Harvest grant from West Seattle’s Madison Middle School. On Friday afternoon, SS representatives attended an all-school assembly to receive a generous check from these philanthropic students. Penny Harvest is a program that was born 1991 by a NYC father whose 4-year old daughter asked why they couldn’t help a homeless man shivering on the street. That question was the catalyst for the father to start a drive collecting “throwaway” pennies.

Each year, students across the nation go door to door, asking friends, neighbors and businesses to contribute pennies to a fund to help solve community problems. The students form roundtable committees to identify issues, such as homelessness and the environment, and the entire school body votes on those which most concern them. The committee of students then researches non-profits who work to alleviate those problems, interviews representatives to determine how the Penny Grant funds would be used, and ultimately grants awards.

We are so honored to be one of the selected recipients and applaud Madison Middle School children for their concern about the environment and their passion to help marine mammals. The funds will help defray the costs of our dedicated phone hotline. Each time the hotline rings and a volunteer answers, Madison Middle School has helped a seal pup (or adult seal, sea lion, elephant seal or maybe even a whale) in need. A big flipper hug to the very cool kids of Madison!

Seal pup Strudel a sweet treat for volunteers

New volunteers Crystal and Jenn were excited to be able to look over seal pup Strudel who rested at Duwamish Head early yesterday morning in the drizzle. The hotline received a call that the pup had been there for “awhile” and our responder arrived within minutes of the report to assess the scene. As the tide receded, Strudel kept within a few feet of the water’s edge for a fast exit from the beach if necessary. Older, weaned pups are much more wary than the young pups we see in the late summer and fall.

Due to increased interest from passersby, Seal Sitters established a tape perimeter and it seemed as though Strudel would settle in for a long nap. However, a curious and pesky sea gull would not let the pup rest. After the bird pecked at his rear flippers, Strudel disappeared into the Sound. Our volunteers walked along the shore to the east and west to make sure the pup had not come back ashore.

Busy weekend for educational outreach

Seal Sitters held a training at the Alki Bathhouse on Saturday for new volunteers. The morning session consisted of a talk with slides and video, outlining the work that the marine mammal stranding network does as well as the biology of seals and sea lions. Following a short break, the volunteers were exposed to the different challenges that they might encounter on the beach - pups on stairwells, open beach, and underneath sea walls. We want to welcome our new volunteers! You should have received your introductory emails and internet links as well as your first online calendar. If you have not, make sure you contact us. Special thanks to Tully’s Coffee on Alki for another generous donation of coffee to keep our audience awake early on a Saturday!

On Sunday, we participated in the annual Alki Summer Streets event featuring vendors and music. Despite the cold and rain throughout the day, Seal Sitters talked to 122 people about seal pups and the marine mammals of Puget Sound. Thanks to all the volunteers who braved the cold and distributed educational materials.

Bartell's "B caring card" helps marine mammals

Seal Sitters is very excited to announce that we are participating in Bartell Drugs’ new B Caring Card program, which is “a fundraising tool for qualifying non-profits to earn money for their organization.” By shopping at any Bartell’s store up to 4% of your purchases will be donated to help Seal Sitters protect marine mammals. You register at no charge to receive a card - then simply present it at the time of purchase and the designated funds will be allocated to help us defray costs of our many expenses. Since we receive no funding for operations from NOAA or any State or City entity, we depend on the public’s donations.

Thank you, Bartell Drugs, and also to the kind soul who suggested we participate in this wonderful program! Learn more by visiting Bartell’s website. Sign up for your card at a Bartell store today.

Happy Mother's Day to moms of all species

Seal Sitters would like to wish all moms a very special day today (and all days). Thanks for all your love and nurturing. Seal moms are especially affectionate with their pups in those formative 4-6 weeks of nursing and teaching a pup the skills to survive. This newborn pup and mom bond through the senses of touch and smell. A pup’s unique call (which sounds like “maaaaaaaaaa”) will enable the mom to find her pup if they are separated in a crowded rookery or due to a disturbance by humans, dogs or other animals. Harbor seal moms are extremely protective of their pups during the short time they are together - after pups are weaned, however, they are on their own to survive. Thankfully, human moms nurture us throughout our lifetime!

Seal pupping season has begun on the outer coasts of Washington and Oregon. Please give harbor seals space and don’t worry if you see a pup alone on the beach. Most likely, the pup is already on his own, but sometimes a still-nursing pup will be left alone on shore. Always stay back and keep dogs leashed. If you have any concerns at all about a pup (or other marine mammal), please call the stranding network for your area.

Clever mention of Seal Sitters in Seattle Magazine

The May issue of Seattle Magazine has a mention of Seal Sitters in the tongue-in-cheek column Seatlleopia, comparing Seattle to Portland. As far as the frostbitten fingers go, it will indeed be nice to do some seal-sitting duty in warmer weather for a change. Of course, warmer weather means bigger crowds and increases the challenges of pups finding a quiet place to rest. Seal Sitters is gearing up for the impending seal pupping season - there is still space open for our May 19th training if you’d like to help out.

Thanks to Kate and Seattle Magazine!

New volunteer combo training session May 19th

Seal Sitters will hold our final training of the year on Saturday, May 19th at the Alki Bathhouse (2701 Alki Avenue SW, next to Statue of Liberty on the beach). From 10am-12:00pm, there will be a talk and A/V presentation. After a 30 minute break, there will be a followup on-the-beach training session lasting approximately an hour. Due to the demands of volunteer time protecting animals during pupping season, there will be no further trainings this year.

Pupping season in South Puget Sound begins in mid-June in area rookeries, where pups are born and nursed for 4-6 weeks. We don’t usually begin seeing pups on West Seattle beaches until early July with the peak of our season in September and October. All of the pups we have been seeing the past few months are weaned pups from last season. Please mark your calendar for the training event and RSVP if you would like to attend.

Pupping season has begun on the outer coast of Oregon and Washington. If you visit coastal areas, you may encounter a pup alone on the beach. Please observe from a distance and keep people and dogs away. This is a very dangerous time of year for newborn pups - if people or dogs cause disruption in a rookery or around a pup alone on the beach, a mother may abandon her young. If you have concerns about the health or safety of a pup, please call the stranding network for that area. Never remove a pup from the beach - it is against Federal Law (the Marine Mammal Protection Act). If you don’t have access to the internet from your phone, you can always call the Seal Sitters hotline at 206-905-SEAL (7325) for the appropriate contact information of the proper stranding response team.

We look forward to seeing you on the 19th- please RSVP here. We encourage children (such as Noemi and Etienne above) to join Seal Sitters - it is a very empowering experience for a child to be able to protect marine mammals and learn about our fragile marine ecosystem.

New volunteers thrilled by seal pup on the beach

For brand new volunteers Jodi and her 5-year-old daughter Louisa, yesterday could not have been better. Recent transplants from the Washington, DC, area, the afternoon’s plans included a trip to the Pacific Science Center. In the morning, Jody received the APB “seal on the beach now” email message from our first responder. She immediately contacted Seal Sitters’ volunteer scheduler Connie to say they would love to spend some time protecting a pup.

The hotline had received a call about 7am that a pup was at a popular scuba diving cove near the Water Taxi. Our first responder taped off the cove, leaving a corridor on the small beach so that divers could access the water. Since this was Louisa’s first seal pup, she got the naming honors. After pondering possibilities for a only a minute or so, she proudly announced the pup was “Princess Drosanna”. Louisa (at left, on duty) spent the next few hours admiring the Princess stretching in the sun.
The very alert, dark-coated pup managed to rest on shore for almost 12 hours - until being startled and scared back into Elliott Bay by an unsuspecting diver who had approached the beach from the water to the south, unaware that a pup was there. Thanks to all the volunteers who pitched in to keep the Princess safe on a beautiful, but windy and cold day. And kudos as always to our volunteer schedulers and hotline operators!

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