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Trio of pups delight volunteers and public

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Seal Sitters would have been very surprised yesterday if we didn’t have some seal pup activity on such a beautiful and sunny day, especially after the rough waters whipped up by Monday’s windy conditions. And, much to our delight, we were not disappointed - 3 pups entertained volunteers and the public. First up, Boomer was spotted early in the morning, resting on his favorite log just off shore. While we had no formal presence to “protect” him, it was hard to resist hanging out with this charming and alert pup who finally slid back into Eliiott Bay mid-afternoon.

Doc returned like clockwork to his favorite hideout and volunteers stayed throughout the day to talk with the occasional beachcombers strolling this stretch of beach, many with dogs. At sunset, Doc flopped back across the sand and headed out for some dinner entree choices of shrimp, squid or small bait fish. We expect to see him again today.

We received a report about 3pm of a seal pup on the beach near Colman Pool at Lincoln Park. The reporting party said people were too close, letting their leashed dogs bark at the pup and wanting to touch him. When our responder arrived, she coaxed the crowd away and set up a quick tape perimeter. The pup was only feet from the sidewalk, but we tried to give him as much of a buffer zone as possible. A family with several young girls were transfixed and given naming honors for being so respectful. One of the youngsters named the pup Shitake (shown above), meaning forest mushroom. Tucked in the logs and rocks, Shitake managed to get a bit of rest in spite of the soft murmur of voices from the sidewalk above. The quietly observant public was enthralled by this little pup’s presence. Shitake returned to the Sound to forage just as the sun was setting and volunteers returned home to forage for some dinner of their own.

Volunteers make daily trip to see Doc

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There’s still alot of seal pup activity around West Seattle’s shoreline. Seal pup Boomer (shown at left) likes to hang out around the old dock at Jack Block Park and has been sighted resting on a log in the water just offshore. Seals will rest on just about anything and will even hitch a ride on a passing tug boat’s log boom. It must be a shock to catch a ride in Everett, settle in for a snooze and wake up in Tacoma! Boomer looks quite healthy - a treat for volunteers after a taxing season of skinny, struggling pups.

This past week, we also responded to a dark-coated pup at Lincoln Park, who seems to haul out at the end of the day when the park is quieter and less vulnerable to disturbance from people and injury from dogs. As weaners get older, they also get wiser, more wary and are able to better assess risks.

Each day for almost a week now, a small pup has been coming ashore on a private stretch of beach with public access at low tide. Because this beach is notorious for off-leash dogs, we have had a volunteer presence to ensure that “Doc” can rest safe and sound in his secret hideaway. While people passing by might not notice him, dogs with their excellent sense of smell and curiosity definitely would, putting the pup (and dogs) in possible danger. Thanks to the volunteers who have done some mighty cold duty looking after Doc.

Challenges ahead for weaned pups

The winter months pose many challenges for weaned pups struggling to survive. When our seal pup Doc was onshore for a day with blood around the mouth and some sustained coughing episodes, we sent video to WDFW’s marine mammal research biologist for input. We were afraid that the pup had possible lungworm issues and that was confirmed. As Dyanna Lambourn explains, lung worm infection is very common in pups this age.

Every single pup deals with parasites to some extent because the majority of worms (lungworms, tapeworms, roundworms, etc) come from the food they eat. Once ingested, the parasite settles into the host animal, grows and reproduces. Because these parasites are foreign to the body, the pup begins to build up an immune system to combat them. Read More...

Flipperboy to the rescue!

Yesterday after seal pup Doc returned to the water, we stashed our cones, stakes and tape on the sea wall in case we needed them again early this morning. When our first responder did her early morning sweep, the cones were floating in the Sound. Apparently the high tide and waves crashed over the wall, sweeping away our precious materials. Able to retrieve only one cone and a long length of Protected Marine Mammal yellow tape, she later spotted a young boy snorkeling nearby. Our new superhero, David Dulaigh (aka Flipperboy), snagged the remaining cones, stakes and tape for us. Thanks to David and his mom. Our worst nightmare would be a seal pup washing ashore wrapped in “protective” tape! We always use biodegradable tape instead of plastic whenever we have concerns about incoming tides and no volunteers available to monitor the area. One of our white barricades with the NOAA Marine Mammal sign, however, is still missing. We have no idea if it, too, was swept out into the water. If you happen to come across it, please call our hotline 206-905-SEAL (7325).

"Hi, I'd like to report a seal pup under my garage"

     
You can imagine our dispatcher Larry’s reaction when the hotline received a phone report this morning of a pup sleeping under a garage on Alki Beach. Our first responder was called and, sure enough, found the little one sound asleep underneath the beachfront house. It was a very high tide this morning and the pup apparently took advantage of the only piece of beach he could find. He does not appear to be one of the pups we have watched over this season, however, we will be comparing photos to confirm that. There was some blood on his mouth and he had a bit of a cough. The pup returned to the Sound about 4pm this afternoon. As long as pups are able to come and go from the beach and forage for food, it is a good sign. We will be keeping an eye out for this pup so we can monitor his health. The owner of the property is an emergency room doctor, so this little pup has been dubbed Doc.
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