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"Alki" dies: reflection in a pup's eyes

     
Seal Sitters is very saddened to report that the little pup nicknamed “Alki” died Thursday morning at Jack Block Park. With the authorization of Port of Seattle authorities and NOAA, our volunteer recovered the body from a somewhat inaccessible beach in order that a necropsy be performed by Fish and Wildlife. Alki was a weaned female, age 1-3 months. Seal Sitter volunteers watched over Alki day and night in a monumental effort to protect her from harm. We would like to thank J.D. of Port of Seattle for her assistance with the retrieval of Alki’s body for necropsy.

SS photographer Robin has posted her thoughts regarding this precious seal pup’s life and death:

“Upon examination, when Dyanna told me she could be only a month old, I was shocked. Even though I knew a pup could be weaned at 4 weeks and she was quite small, I was just taken aback. With Alki’s body in my car, I had cried virtually all the way down to Tacoma thinking if only we had been able to save her. After Dyanna's comment, I cried most of the way back home, thinking we probably could not have saved her, but humanity could have served her better...”
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Club Med for seals

     
Alki and Bailey have been enjoying a very relaxing extended stay at their exclusive West Seattle beach ~ they swim a little, bask a little, swim a little, bask a little. The two seal pups have been coming and going all day and evening today, keeping Seal Sitters on their toes moving tape and cones. All in all, a very healthy sign that the pups are gaining strength from their long beach siestas. Alki (shown at left) is looking stronger every day and is easily identified by a little nick on his nose.

So, how do we identify the pups to keep track of their haulout patterns and health? Read More...

Alki and Bailey back for an extended snooze

     
Alki and Bailey both returned to our shores today. Bailey hauled out in the morning and then again late in the afternoon. Bailey returned to the water around 7 pm.

Much to the relief of Seal Sitters, Alki looked much better than yesterday and returned for a very long snooze. Weaned pups have a very tough time of it. Fish are hard for young pups to catch and, as a result of low body weight, they become more vulnerable to parasites and viruses. Here we see Alki stretching in the sun soon after hauling out this afternoon, safely cordoned off by Seal Sitters. The posture exhibited here by Alki is an excellent indication of improved health. As of 9 pm he is still resting comfortably ~ watched over, of course, by our volunteers. And special thanks to Dan and his Parks team for their help today.

Another busy day of pups on the beach

     
Seal Sitters had another long day today as two pups hauled out in a very busy location. New volunteers gained experience educating the public and onlookers were excited and respectful. All in all, it was a good day for the pups who enjoyed many hours of much-needed rest on a sunny fall day. The very healthy and alert pup shown here was dubbed “Doc Bailey” by a young girl. The second pup named Alki by a young onlooker was quite thin and not as alert as we would hope. Photos are being analyzed to assess the health of the pup who returned to the water late afternoon. “Bailey” returned to the Sound about 6:15 pm.

Nursing pup hauls out for the long haul

     
It’s very possible that extraordinarily watchful Seal Sitters saved a nursing pup’s life last night on the beach. It was a beautiful late summer night, first weekend of school and a very active, crowded beach on Sept. 18th. A very tiny seal pup (2 ft. long and probably 4 weeks old) hauled out in the early afternoon in a dangerously public place – skateboarders, crowds of teenagers, cars roaring by, sirens, many people wanting to “get close for one cell phone photo.” This pup was so wide-eyed and vulnerable with no fear or savvy sense yet about humans. She was far away from the tide so did not have any quick escape if threatened. Without the yellow “Protected Marine Mammal” tape Seal Sitters used to cordon the pup off from crowds, a jogger or strollers might have tripped over her tiny body.

Though perfectly camouflaged by gravel and beach rocks, the pup still drew big, curious crowds. Seal Sitters were called and 8 new volunteers from our July training showed up for their first night of pup-sitting. New Seal Sitters were thrilled at this opportunity to watch over a wild animal sharing our beach.
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The Pups are Back!

     
Pups are just now beginning to arrive on the beaches of West Seattle so please be alert. Should you spot a pup onshore, please keep people at a respectable distance and call Seal Sitters’ hotline @ 206-905-7325 (SEAL). Thus far, the pups all appear to be weaned, meaning there is no mom waiting for them offshore to give them a meal at the end of the day.They are on their own, learning how to fish, and are quite thin. It is imperative that they be given time to rest and warm up to gain strength. This is a very difficult time for a young pup and safe sanctuary is vital to their survival.

Yesterday we had a pup (shown above) resting comfortably on the beach access steps just south of Cactus. It was a beautiful fall day and gave SS volunteers an opportunity to educate onlookers about the world of seal pups. Jora T., the daughter of a Seal Sitter trainee, observed the pup for some time and named him “Claree.” He was somewhat thin with a small wound on his flipper, but otherwise looked quite healthy and was very alert and aware of the public around him. The pup returned to the water around 7:30 last night.

Please be aware as you walk and let us know if you spot any little blubberballs on the beach. Thanks to the very alert citizen who called in a report of this pup!

Sailing Sea Lions

     
The sea lions have finally returned to our waters after migrating from Oregon and California. The males will migrate, however, the females remain south near their rookeries. On occasion we have had a female show up in Puget Sound, but that is rare (see posts on 5/22/09 and 1/25/09). Males are distinguished by a pronounced bump on the forehead called a sagittal crest and are significantly larger than females. One behavior that is not rare is called “sailing” and NOAA gets numerous reports of sea lions in trouble when, indeed, they are regulating their body temperature. When a number of sea lions group together and exhibit this behavior, it is known as “rafting.” Read more about sea lions on our website.

Pup enjoys the sun at Constellation Park

     
A pup enjoyed a long snooze on the beach at Constellation Park this afternoon. This particular beach is popular for people with dogs (often illegally offleash) so Seal Sitter volunteers were on the scene to make sure the pup could rest undisturbed well into the evening. A young Seal Sitter named Vega R. named the pup “Lola,” shown here thermoregulating and warming her body temperature with a big stretch.



Pup at Weathervane Park

     
A pup hauled out at Weathervane Park today from approximately 8 am until 5 pm when he returned to the Sound. The pup was alert, but had a nice rest on the beach as Seal Sitter volunteers observed. It was a perfect training opportunity for new volunteers as the pup was in a secure spot with easy visibility by trainees. The pup was named “Justice” by volunteer Pat F. Photo by volunteer Bill Thornton. Click here to view a video by Brenda Peterson as Justice returns to the sea.





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