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Seal Sitters protect special pup

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On Sunday we received a call about a seal pup at Lincoln Park, but when our responder arrived she had already been scared back into the Sound. Thankfully, the pup hauled out again on the beach a bit further south. A perimeter was quickly established around the pup who had a yellow tag and red streamer on her rear flippers. With a long telephoto lens, we tried to get a photo of the number on the tag, but the angle was never quite right. The skittish pup did manage to get a bit of rest, but was scared into the water by kayakers twice. The second time, she did not return to shore, but instead could be seen sleeping in the water. Seals can sleep underwater, coming up for air every 20-30 minutes. The pup was bottling, sleeping vertically with the head up out of the water. Heads up to kayakers: If you notice yellow tape on the beach, that means there is a seal trying to rest, so please give a wide berth and paddle out away from shore. More often than not, kayakers and paddle boarders spook pups.

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The next day, the pup was seen at another park and volunteers talked to onlookers while the pup slept on the pebbled beach below. Our responder was able to get a clear photo of the tag number and we texted the WDFW-MMI biologist to find out the pup’s backstory. We were delighted to hear that the female pup came from one of her South Sound island rookeries, south of Tacoma. WDFW’s researchers use hoop nets to briefly capture seals after the pupping season has ended, taking blubber samples and drawing blood. These samples help monitor the health of the population. At that time, this little female, nicknamed Lady Dy, weighed 20.3 kg and was fully weaned. She was tagged in order to follow her progress. It’s exciting to protect a pup from our mentor’s rookery.

Seal pup Cassi has been using Constellation Park to rest over the past few days; so with two active pups our volunteers have been putting in extremely long hours. Our rookie volunteers from the early March training have been getting lots of varied experience the past couple of weeks. Today we got a bit of a break from beach duty, as we didn’t spot either weaned pup on shore.
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