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Tired volunteers watch over resting pups

Seal Sitters’ West Seattle volunteers are dragging from very long hours watching over multiple pups on beaches on all corners of our community. Wednesday morning, Bianca returned to her favorite, not so safe spot. She looked healthy and rested for a number of hours. The hotline also received a call about a seal pup at Lincoln Park. Good samaritan Jim protected a very rotund Blacky on the log-covered beach (see photo) until our over-extended volunteers could arrive. Thank you so much, Jim! And thanks, too, to Trileigh and Barb who did the same last week, keeping people and dogs away until we could arrive at the park. Blacky crawled up closer to the sea wall and slept among the logs.

Late in the afternoon, we received a call that a small pup had just hauled out on a city-side beach (photo left). Our responders found the very small and chubby pup resting in the waves. Nicknamed Oona, he had a very long snooze on the beach as the Seattle skyline twinkled at dark. He was so fat and small that we thought we might have a nursing pup; however, photos of teeth reveal that he is indeed weaned and on his own.

Yesterday, volunteers were stretched to the max as we had four pups on shore at the same time in different West Seattle locations. We had pups at two different Beach Drive parks, a pup hauled out a city-side beach and seal pup Bianca, who returned for the fifth day in a row, resing a full ten hours before she returned to Elliott Bay at high tide. Needless to say, our volunteers were exhausted and we cannot thank them enough. The hotline handled 22 phone calls yesterday. The hotline operators and volunteer schedulers deserve many kudos for all their hard work, day after day.

The Sno-King wing of Seal Sitters (responding to calls in Seattle and beaches to the north) has been looking after a pup who has been returning to the same beach for several days running.

Pup-o-Rama still playing in West Seattle

West Seattle continues to be a hotspot for seal pups to haul out and try to catch some z’s. Responders have had their hands full trying to stay on top of reports of pups from one end of WS to the next - not to mention trying to keep up with the blog. Sunday, the 25th, was our quietest day after a number of days in a row with multiple pups. Sunday we had one pup at Lincoln Park who popped on and off shore throughout the day as volunteers monitored the pup’s movement.

Monday, a day of heavy rain and winds, found a new pup lounging in the middle of Don Armeni boat launch. Since there was one lone boat that launched and no trailers in the lots, the pup rested for the day on the cement “beach” (photo above). Pups are attracted to boat ramps because the docks over the water are habitat for the tiny fish that seal pups favor and the ramps are just like one endless beach to them. Food and a nice resting place is attractive to a pup. However, a boat ramp is an extremely dangerous place for a pup to call home - a seal pup was run over this season at the Steilacoom boat ramp. Our new big and healthy weaned pup, dubbed Bianca for her white coat, returned to the water late in the afternoon after being protected by hardy and dedicated volunteers standing in a cold rain. In the meantime, our investigator responded to reports of two dead seal pups at Lincoln Park. Those pups were taken for necropsy and we will post the results when we receive them. The two pups are not ones our volunteers have looked after.

Tuesday brought sunshine and three visitors. The hotline received a call that a pup was on a Duwamish Head beach. Sure enough, our responder found Bianca onshore, stretching in the warm morning sun. Our volunteers and the few walkers along the sea wall enjoyed her antics. About two hours later, a very small pup came ashore just around the bend from her. This pup was quite chubby and alert, but quickly zonked out and took a long snooze as onlookers oohed and ahhed from the sidewalk above. The pup, named appropriately enough, Chunky, and Bianca both returned to Elliott Bay when the tide rose and the beach vanished. As Bianca and Chunky were still lounging on the sand, we responded to a report of a pup at Lincoln Park, Blacky, whom volunteers looked over til very late afternoon. Unfortunately, Bianca reappeared early evening at the very unsafe boat launch - where off leash dogs, many people and trucks, trailers, boats and cars are too close. If you see a pup on the boat ramp, please call our hotline immediately @ 206-905-SEAL (7325).

Pups need to rest - stay away and don't touch!

Seal pup Blacky hauled out again early this morning at the same spot he has used for three days running now in Lincoln Park. Unfortunately, the tape barrier was breached and the alert, jittery pup was scared back into the water. Blacky did not return today. We hope to see this dark little pup tomorrow.

Late afternoon, the hotline received a call about a pup on a beach near the Fauntleroy ferry (photo at right). A ferry worker told our responder that a man was “petting” the pup before we arrived. It is against federal law to touch or harass a seal, punishable by fine and/or imprisonment. An off-leash dog also reportedly had caused the pup to leave the beach, but after the dog left he returned. Our responder explained to the very inebriated (and thankfully congenial) man sitting on a log just inches from the pup that he needed to move away and she taped off the area. Volunteers stood watch on the beach, intercepting a man jogging along the shore’s edge and another walking with an off-leash dog. Both men were extremely cooperative and considerate when informed of the pup’s presence. This very small pup has been identified as Gypsy, who spent an evening on the beach at Lincoln Park on the 21st. Gypsy swam off into the Sound as evening fell - hopefully to fatten up a bit.

Thanks so much to all of you who are calling in reports to our hotline. You are truly our eyes on the beach and make a tremendous difference in our ability to protect these terribly vulnerable pups. And, as always, thanks to our volunteers who are putting in mega-hours!

More new pups keep "sitters" on the run

Once again, these are busy days for Seal Sitters in West Seattle and Seattle. The Sno-King wing has been observing pups three days in a row on a very populated beach in Seattle. The pups are a bit thin, but otherwise seem healthy and the pattern of returning to the Sound is reassuring.

Yesterday in West Seattle, we had four pups on shore - three on public beaches and one on private property. The two at Lincoln Park could not have differed more in appearance. Paloma is a white pup with subtle spots and Blacky is very dark with light spots. The two pups, one at the park’s southend and the other mid-park, spent many hours on the beach. Both were tucked among the logs for much of the day. The third pup at Constellation Park was nicknamed Orion. There was some confusion as to the initial reported location of this pup. Please remember if you call the hotline give as precise a location as possible - if a pup is within park boundaries, please note a landmark for our responders. If there is a visible street address, please let our dispatcher know.

Early this morning, the hotline received a report that a pup was on Alki beach. Our responder arrived minutes after the call came in, but no pup was found. Shortly afterwards, we received a call about another pup on the beach at Lincoln Park. When our responders arrived, there was no pup at that reported location. However, we soon spotted a pup hauling out just to the south. The skittish pup, who was identified as Blacky (shown here), was alert to people’s presence, but finally settled in, stretched and yawned in the sun and stayed til sunset.

Heads up as you walk the beach - pups are everywhere!

Seal pup Peaches newest media celeb

Seal Sitters and fuzzy little seal pup Peaches were featured on the front page of the Seattle Times today. Many thanks to environmental writer Lynda Maypes and photographer Alan Berner for their interest in writing a cover story on our stranding network and the flurry of pups that have been using the shoreline. Read the full story here.

Record breaking pace for seal pups in West Seattle

Yesterday, Seal Sitters’ West Seattle volunteers looked after two more seal pups - pups # 23 and 24 since the first week of August. This is a record setting pace for West Seattle since 2007 and does not take into account the responses of our Sno-King wing (which covers Seattle and beaches north to Marysville). West Seattle is definitely a happenin’ place for seal pups and volunteers who are running a bit ragged these days!

Shown here is new pup Peaches who hauled out at a cove near the Water Taxi landing, rested for a few hours and then relocated to a quieter cove to the south. Peaches had about 13 hours of rest yesterday so should have had lots of energy to go out fishing for the night.

We also received a call about a pup at Lincoln Park. That pup has been nicknamed Gypsy for her dark eyes and exotic spotted coat. Onlookers were amazed at how well camouflaged she was against the pebbled beach - all the more reason for the tape to keep people from accidentally stepping on a sleeping pup!

Seal pup craze continues today

For the third straight day, Seal Sitters watched over two pups. Beach strollers were given an extra treat this morning as a pup hauled out along the sea wall at Alki Beach. The incoming tide caused the pup to seek out what he deemed to be a cozy spot on the cement steps leading down to the beach. Volunteers quickly established a safety zone of yellow tape and construction cones, educating the public about seals’ need to rest 50% of their day. Onlookers were fascinated as they peered through a spotting scope to get a closer glimpse of the spotted pup, nicknamed Pauley. Pauley returned to the Sound early evening.

Late afternoon, the hotline received a report of a very tiny pup on a stretch of private beach accessible to the public at low tide - an area frequented by off leash dogs. We were asked to come to the site and establish a perimeter to warn people of the pup’s presence. The very tiny pup was too thin for our liking, but was able to rest for hours on the pebbled beach. We are comparing markings to see if this is a pup we have looked after this season.

Have tape will travel - Seal Sitters' new motto

The past few days have seen a flurry of seal pups on the beaches of West Seattle with volunteers putting in very long days, often well after dark. Early yesterday morning the hotline received a call of a pup at Anchor Park - just minutes after our responder had checked the beach there. Sure enough, a pup was sleeping in the tideline. The pup was identified by markings as Dandy, who had visited Alki Beach the evening before. As the incoming tide forced Dandy further towards the seawall it was evident that he was still not using his left flipper. However, the pup seems healthy otherwise and certainly appears to be successfully foraging. We assume this is a weaned pup, but have not been able to catch a glimpse of his teeth to verify that. Dandy returned to the water when the tide swept over the shrinking stretch of beach.

In the meantime, an observant volunteer noticed another pup hauling out onto a rock just offshore below the sea wall further down the beach. Grabbing stakes, cones and tape, we established a second perimeter that allowed the public a great view of the pup, but kept people from standing above him and disrupting his much-needed rest. This white, chubby little pup was named Pearl (above). Pearl rested on the rock til shortly after 7pm and volunteers went home happy, but tired after two very long days.

Sunday a day of rest for two pups, but not for volunteers

On Sunday the hotline received a report of a pup on the sand near the volleyball courts on Alki Beach. Our responder quickly established a large perimeter around the thin and slumbering pup. A young girl named Mia and her mom discovered the pup and suggested Rose as the name for this new visitor. Rose (at right) slept unaware of all the adoring eyes of volunteers and the public watching her until darkness fell.

About 6pm, a second pup hauled out just a bit south of Rose, so volunteers scrambled to extend the tape to protect this little pup as well. A volunteer nicknamed this little pup, Dandy. Dandy decided to return to the water after resting a short while and appeared to have some kind of injury to his left flipper. The pup, however, was alert with reasonably good body weight. Soon after, volunteers were alerted that the pup had hauled out again, this time north of us! Volunteers taped off yet another perimeter until darkness fell and Dandy returned to the Sound.

Seal pup lovefest on our beaches

Over the last few days, volunteers have been lugging stakes, signs and tape from beach to beach as pup season is definitely now in full swing in West Seattle. Seal pup Sleepy has used the same stretch of Lincoln Park beach for three days now, but his health has declined. Yesterday, a volunteer managed (with a long telephoto lens) to get a photograph of a deep wound underneath his front flipper. He returned to Puget Sound in the afternoon, but came ashore again early evening. When our volunteer checked his resting spot at dawn this morning, there was no sign of Sleepy - but instead two people with an offleash dog fetching sticks in the water. As we have mentioned over and over in our blog posts, dogs are NOT allowed on any Seattle city beaches. With limited resources for rehabbing seal pups, we need to give them the time to rest and, hopefully, heal.

A gorgeous little pup has been using West Seattle’s city side beaches for three days now. Nicknamed Blanco (photo above) for his white coat, this pup is very alert and seemingly healthy. A baby seagull seems to have befriended him, pestering Blanco as he tries to sleep. The baby seagulls of WS seem intrigued by these unusual new visitors. Many, many thanks to Alki Kayak Tours and customers for their cooperation in making sure that Blanco rested under somewhat trying circumstances today - it truly was an example of “sharing the shore”.

Thanks to our dedicated volunteers who have been putting in very long days. We reap huge rewards knowing that we might allow even one pup a better chance at survival; seal pups only have a 50% chance of surviving their first year. The joy of seeing a pup stretch, yawn and doze on our watch never diminishes.

Pups snooze under watchful eyes

Seal Sitters volunteers continue to look over pups as they take long naps on shore. Henry was back in his rocky spot yesterday for an extended hiatus from Puget Sound. We also received a report late in the day about a pup on the beach at the south end of West Seattle. This pup was found in a deep sleep between some logs and the incoming tide. The park was relatively deserted so our volunteers kept a very low presence and the pup, dubbed Sleepy, had a peaceful slumber nestled safely on shore.

Human interference a serious threat to seal pups

Seal Sitters has responded to two incidents the past few days involving human interference in the Everett area, both by well-meaning but misguided folks. Never pour water or place clothing or towels over seal pups. Material placed over a struggling pup can cause severe health consequences from over-heating. It is a federal offense to touch, move or feed a marine mammal as written into the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Keep your distance from a seal pup or seal on the beach and call the stranding network or NOAA Hotline. Violators will be prosecuted or heavily fined by NOAA’s Office for Law Enforcement.

In West Seattle over the past few days, we had two incidents of off leash dogs with owners who flagrantly violated the “no dogs on beach” ordinance - with the knowledge that there was a seal pup on the beach. In the case yesterday, a woman running on the beach refused to control and leash her dog, even after being informed that we had a very small pup on the rocks. As they ran by, seal pup Henry was scared and fell deep into a hole in the rocks, distressed and apparently stuck. As our volunteers scrambled to assess how to intervene for a rescue if necessary, Henry managed to free himself and crawl out onto the beach. Our volunteers remained on the beach to prevent any further incidents. Every year dogs maul or kill seal pups in the Northwest. All persons willfully violating the MMPA will be reported to NOAA Office for Law Enforcement. A violation includes an act by a human that in any way alters the behavior of a marine mammal - including causing them to relocate. Seal Sitters tries our best to maintain a reasonable perimeter so that a pup may rest undisturbed in a very urban environment. Please be respectful of seals’ need to rest onshore!

Busy days for Seal Sitters protecting pups

The past few days have been very busy for Seal Sitters volunteers. Early Sunday morning, a pup hauled out on the sand at the north end of Alki Beach. When our responder arrived there were already people too close to the pup. She established a large perimeter him in anticipation of huge crowds on the beach on such a beautiful weekend. Volunteers were present throughout the day, informing the public that the pup appeared healthy and was getting the necessary rest needed for survival. The pup was identified through photos to be IQ, the “very smart” pup who hauled out the day before at the opposite end of the beach. IQ returned to the Sound about 6pm - a long, but rewarding day for our volunteers. Many of our new volunteers were able to get their feet wet (so to speak) talking to the public and observing the habits of a pup on shore.

Yesterday morning a very tiny and alert pup (shown above) was resting high on the lichen-covered rocks just below the sea wall. The pup had come in at high tide during the night. Since people were running and walking along the wall just feet above the pup (and sometimes stopping to talk excitedly about him), we established a tape perimeter to keep people and dogs back. This pup was named Henry by an enthusiastic onlooker. An incident with a woman on the beach who refused to leash and control her dog caused the pup to be scared off the rocks. Her careless act may have caused injury to Henry (see related story). We repeatedly try to stress to dog owners that dogs truly are a threat to these vulnerable seal pups!

This weekend was busy for our Sno-King investigator as well with multiple pups in the Everett area, some involving human interference as well - this time, however, by well-meaning individuals.

Thanks to all our volunteers who have put in such long hours the past week!

Super smart pup hauls out on Alki

Seal Sitters hotline received a call about 1pm today that a pup had hauled out on the beach across from Starbucks, attracting quite a curious crowd. Our responder quickly appeared on the scene, began taping off a perimeter above the pup on the sidewalk and sea wall, and informed the onlookers that the pup had come ashore to rest. Due to an incoming tide and just a few feet of beach, the pup periodically returned to the water only to reappear on shore a few yards south. The pup finally found a slightly wider stretch of beach and rested comfortably for about 6 hours. Thanks to our volunteers and a very respectful and excited public, the only disruption the pup had was from a baby seagull who was very curious about this strange little flippered friend. The very healthy looking, recently weaned pup hauled out right behind our newly installed beach sign - the one that says to let pups rest undisturbed. For this reason, young Seal Sitter volunteer Elizabeth and her friend Esther nicknamed the pup IQ - because this is one smart seal pup! IQ returned to Puget Sound at sunset. Thanks to the many volunteers who pitched in today to keep IQ safe.

Pups, pups and more pups - we love pups of all species

It’s been a crazy week with seal pups in various parks and on private property in Seattle, Everett, Shoreline and West Seattle. Responding to such a diverse area can be challenging for an all-volunteer group. Seal Sitters just completed training for more volunteers who live Seattle-side and areas north, all of whom are anxious to pitch in and help marine mammals. Thanks to the Discovery Park staff for donating the use of the Visitor Center for our training.

We have a great group of dedicated volunteers and we try our best to respond in the quickest manner possible; please keep in mind that some of the more remote locations can require significantly more response time - and with a number of pups on shore, the network can be stretched pretty thin. If you are waiting for a network volunteer to arrive, please keep people and dogs away. Note, too, that not all locations require volunteers to remain on site once an animal has been assessed and a perimeter established. It is our more urban areas that require vigilance by volunteers to keep the animal safe from the public and dogs. Off leash dogs remain the biggest danger to a vulnerable seal pup. Repeatedly, our volunteers have to remind people that it is illegal for dogs to be on city beaches and an unsafe situation for both seal pups and dogs. Yesterday, we had a very young seal pup at Lincoln Park and numerous problems with dogs on the beach. No one loves dogs more than our volunteers! PLEASE respect that other animals need time to rest on the beach in order to survive.

Shown in the video above is seal pup Smooch, resting Wednesday on the rocks, virtually unnoticed by passersby as the sun set. You can hear a kingfisher twitter, people chatter and the sound of traffic zooming by on the street above him.

Wave of seal pups comes ashore

It was another busy day for Seal Sitters yesterday as pups have begun to visit the shores of Puget Sound with more frequency. In West Seattle alone, we had three pups in different locations. The first report (from two of our volunteers out for a bike ride) was of a pup on the small beach east of the Jack Block pier. The very small pup, nicknamed Waldo, appeared to have a bit of umbilicus and returned to Elliott Bay in the afternoon. A second pup in the same park, nicknamed Cupcake, rested on the rocks underneath a walkway and was quietly observed by volunteers and a very respectful, rapt public. Shown in the photo above, Cupcake swims back to the rocky shore after a quick dip. This healthy looking pup finally returned to Elliott Bay early evening after a good, long snooze in the sun. A third pup was located on a private beach that was accessible by beachcombers at low tide. This pup, deemed Kai by waterfront residents, has been observed off and on for the past few days, possibly with an attending mom, as an adult has been seen offshore swimming with the pup. Kai may be the same pup that was reported on August 13th a bit further up the beach. The pup was back on the beach again today and returned to Puget Sound at 8:15 tonight. Concerned and considerate neighbors have been keeping an eye on this little pup - one neighbor even moved a beach party to a different location so as not to disturb Kai or possibly prevent mom from returning (if indeed that is a mom). Kudos to the neighborhood!

Seal Sitters also responded to a report of a pup on a Seattle park beach. The pup returned to Puget Sound overnight.

KAYAKERS PLEASE NOTE: The beach east of the Jack Block Park pier is closed to the public. Access by kayak is not permitted by the Port of Seattle. Waldo was not spotted on the beach there today. Instead, several kayakers were using the beach. Port authorities plan to post signage that the beach is indeed closed to lessen confusion.

Seal Sitters get workout responding to pup reports today

Seal Sitters had a bit of a crazy day today with multiple reports of pups on West Seattle beaches. Our hotline received a call about 9:30 with a report of a pup at Lincoln Park. Our responder reached the beach within 15 -20 minutes, but there was no pup to be found at that location - only a couple with a dog on a leash on the beach (against the law on all Seattle beaches). Our volunteer walked the beach to the north and discovered the very small, thin seal resting and established a large biodegradable tape perimeter around him. The pup, nicknamed Sunny D, finally returned to the Sound about 3:30. Shortly after leaving Lincoln Park, we received a call of another pup at Constellation Beach. The reporting party said the pup was being bothered by a group of people. When our responders arrived, he had returned to the water. Within minutes, we received yet another call that a pup was back on the beach at Lincoln Park. We responded and began to tape off the area, however, the pup was at the high tide line and went in the water. The pup was then reported further up the beach, but apparently a fisherman inadvertently scared the pup back into the Sound. Our volunteers scoured the shoreline til sunset. We want to stress again that each time a pup is forced to leave the beach, he is burning valuable calories that truly might be the difference between life and death.

A well-intentioned soul “tweeted” the location of the Lincoln Park pup in a desperate attempt to seek help for him. We respectfully ask that the public and media NOT broadcast the location of any marine mammal on the beach as it can compromise the safety of the animal. Please contact Seal Sitters’ hotline @ 206-905-SEAL (7325). We appreciate the support and thoughtful discretion that the West Seattle Blog embodies when covering real-time stranding network activities and pups on the beach.
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