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Pup Francis

Two seal pups in as many days for Seal Sitters

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On Tuesday, Seal Sitters received a call that a harbor seal pup was at the Don Armeni public boat launch, surrounded by people - illegally touching and petting him. The pup managed to escape back into Elliott Bay before our responder arrived and the crowd had dispersed.

The following afternoon, a tiny seal pup came ashore at that same dangerous location, busy with frequent boat and trailer traffic - in addition to trucks rumbling through the parking lot and busses unloading tourists to take photos of the Seattle skyline. We believe he is probably the same pup that had been harassed the day before. Pups are attracted to this location because of the small fish fry that thrive underneath docks and piers - and because fishermen often dump their bait after a long day of fishing. A pup trying to rest on any public launch is extremely vulnerable to being run over and killed, serious injury from off-leash dogs and harassment from people. All marine mammals are protected from harassment by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Washington State Law.

The pup, nicknamed Pup Francis (shown above snoozing in the sun near the tide line), rested under the protection of Seal Sitters volunteers and returned to the water after several hours, only to come ashore at the ramp again later in the day for a short time. Volunteers in shifts educated the public and, thankfully, boaters were very supportive of our attempts to give him a bit of sanctuary onshore in a difficult situation. One boater even remarked that “he needs the ramp more than we do” and was more than happy to use an alternative ramp for launching.

Pup Francis was thinner than we like to see and we hope he packs on some weight and finds a safer haulout.

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Yesterday afternoon, Seal Sitters responded to another pup (shown at left) resting against a moss-covered rock on a very small piece of pebbled Elliott Bay beach. New volunteer Jenny was thrilled to finally be given the opportunity to protect a seal pup, after a very slow start to our West Seattle pupping season. She nicknamed the spotted and alert pup Moss.

Volunteers taped off a small area of the sidewalk on the sea wall above the pup, still allowing plenty of room for passersby and bikers. Distributing stickers to kids and informational handouts, they spoke with quite a few people about the need for seal pups to rest and warm up. A curious seagull pecked at Moss, wondering if the sleeping pup was alive - and barely escaped the snapping jaws of the startled pup.

The incoming tide was soon lapping at his (or her) rear flippers. Not long after, a big swell rushed over Moss who then swam off into the gray waters. Volunteers waited to make sure he didn’t appear further down the beach and then removed all materials from the site.

Please call Seal Sitters’ hotline @ 206-905-SEAL (7325) if you see a seal or sea lion onshore. Keep people and dogs well away until our first responder can arrive on the scene.
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