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Seal Sitters volunteers reach out at Alki Art Fair

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Yesterday, Seal Sitters volunteers manned a booth at the always fun Alki Art Fair, a celebration of art and music along West Seattle’s beach promenade. We spoke with 308 interested folks about NOAA’s NW Marine Mammal Stranding Network (of which we are a part) and the impending harbor seal pupping season. The season is in full swing in the rookeries and we fully expect an onslaught of newly weaned pups any day now. We did have our first pup early in the week, Georgie - possibly only a day or so old. We have not sighted Georgie since then, but hope that he was reunited with mom and nursing happily.

We talked to many parents strolling with their kids, who were captivated (like 2 year old Maggie above) by our seal hand puppet mascot Storm (named in honor of a thin pup we rescued in 2010 who was rehabbed and released successfully back to the wild). Volunteers Julia and Nina, our unparalleled puppeteers, made sure that the kids understood that they cannot touch a real seal pup and that they need to stay far away so the pup can rest undisturbed.

Thanks to Snooter-doots’ Gina for donating two unique felt seals for our raffle this weekend! Please stop by for your chance to win one again today. Yesterday’s winner graciously refused the prize so that we could use the toy to raise additional funds. Thanks so much, Leonard, and to everyone who donated to our cause. Because Seal Sitters MMSN receives no funding from NOAA, the State or City, every contribution helps us pay for our dedicated phone hotline, website and blog hosting and stranding/educational materials. Stop by today for another chance to win these one-of-a-kind toys.

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Flipper hugs to all the volunteers who put in hours Friday and yesterday, helping with various tasks for Fair organizers (in exchange for our table - thanks to Alki Art Fair!) and doing outreach at our booth. Shown in the photo here are (left to right) Tod, David, Eilene, Julia, Nina and Billy. A number of other volunteers also helped out throughout the day.

Please stop by our booth today to learn about the marine mammals of Puget Sound and volunteer opportunities.

Visit our booth at Alki Art Fair

     
(see update end of story) Seal Sitters would like to thank the Alki Art Fair committee for giving us the opportunity to do some public outreach at the Fair on Alki Beach Saturday, July 23rd (10am-8:30pm) and Sunday, July 24th (10am-7:15pm). This very fun event, featuring numerous artists from the area, will have performing musicians of all genres (including blues, jazz, Brazilian, grunge and folk) from 10am til closing each day (see WS Blog’s listing). We’d like to toot the horn of Seal Sitters volunteer and co-lead investigator Rachel Mayer who will be playing a smokin’ saxophone with The MoodSwings, Seattle’s all-female big band, at 10am on Saturday. Make sure you visit the Fair, enjoy all the festivities and stop by our booth! Thanks to all the volunteers who will be donating time to this event.

UPDATE 7/25/11 Over the course of the weekend, Seal Sitters talked to 478 people about the marine mammal stranding network, the work we do and harbor seal pupping season. Shown at right is volunteer Nina with seal puppet mascot, Storm - named in honor of the thin seal pup we rescued from Lincoln Park last year. Storm weighed a mere 17.7 lbs the day we took her to PAWS for rehab and weighed a whopping 62 lbs when released ten weeks later. Nina and Storm delighted youngsters who stopped by our booth. Thanks to all the volunteers who donated time this weekend to educate the public.

Seal pup recovered from Port of Seattle property

We are sad to report that the seal pup SS volunteers watched over Sunday night at Don Armeni boat ramp was found dead on the inaccessible, secured East beach at Jack Block Park early this morning. The pup (who was thin, but exhibited no overt signs of illness) had been observed over the past few days hauled out in different locations within the park. We would like to give special thanks to Port of Seattle Police officer Julia Tanga, T5 security officer Charles and terminal manager Kelly of Eagle Marine Services for their help today in allowing our first responder access to recover the body for necropsy. The necropsies performed by WDFW’s marine mammal biologist are critical in monitoring the health of our seal and sea lion population. We will keep you updated with the necropsy results, so please check back.

     
While it seems like lately we having our fair share of sad news, Seal Sitters would like to remind everyone that we have had some very fat, happy blubberballs this year - our celebrities Pebbles, ET and Queen Latifah - and a number of other pups who have shared our shore. And we shouldn’t forget our big success story of the season - the rehabilitation and release of Storm. Our seal pups have been unusually healthy this year as opposed to years past. As we know, pups only have a 50% chance of surviving that first year of life, so it’s critical that we give them the best chance possible to thrive. While our volunteers do have some terribly sad days, the joys of our work far outweigh the sorrows. Winter may be a challenging time, but rest assured we do have some very healthy looking seals hanging around. In fact, there were 5 seals of varying ages resting on an abandoned pier before dawn yesterday - a beautiful sight to behold in this video clip. The rising tide finally encouraged them to return to Elliott Bay. It is a sight like this that can lift the spirits of a very saddened volunteer and remind us of the very important work we do.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our volunteers and supporters

Seal Sitters wants to extend holiday wishes to all of our dedicated volunteers and those of you in the public who have been so supportive of our work. We have much to be thankful for this season: all of our pups who continue to entertain and amaze us and so many genuinely caring people who want to understand and protect them. We are so grateful that little ET traveled all the way from his tiny island rookery near Steilacoom to heal his wounds on our West Seattle shores - and so thankful that we were given the opportunity to help him do so. We are elated that PAWS was able to successfully rehabilitate Storm who was just recently released back to the wild. We are so lucky to live on the Salish Sea.

To all of you, Happy Thanksgiving and very safe travels on those still-icy roads.

Seal pup Storm finally returns home to the Salish Sea

     
After over 10 weeks in rehab at PAWS in Lynnwood, our Lincoln Park seal pup Storm has finally been returned to her home in the Salish Sea. Yesterday afternoon, after being given a final examination by veterinarian Dr. John Huckabee, she was loaded into a kennel, sporting a new red identification tag (#803), and transported by truck to an Everett boat launch. Then, in the rain and cold, a team which included PAWS, NOAA, Everett Parks and our SS first responder escorted Storm by boat to her release destination off Jetty Island. Storm became quite animated in her kennel as the salt air and water whipped over the open boat. The excitement and anticipation was evident, too, in the faces of the team. We all silently wondered how she would react to this huge expanse of water after being alone in a small pool for months. Would she be able to fish successfully in the wild? Would she be able to assimilate into the local seal colony? Would she be safe on her own? Worries were soon vanquished by the joy of seeing the kennel gate swing open and Storm plunge into the frigid gray water. She lingered for a bit, looking so small and fragile in the vast waters, and then swam around the tip of the island, out of sight.

When Seal Sitters rescued Storm from the beach on Labor Day, September 6th, she was estimated to be only a few weeks old, weighed a mere 17.7 lbs and was a length of 33 inches. Yesterday when released, she weighed 62 lbs and was 37 inches - only 4 inches longer, but about 45 lbs heavier! Storm is truly a beautiful blubberball who has been given a second chance at life. To have been a part of saving her life and helping Storm return home cannot be put into words.

To read all posts about Storm, please click on the tag below.

Storm to be released back into the wild next week

     
Our Lincoln Park emaciated seal pup, Storm, who was rescued from the beach on Labor Day and taken to PAWS for treatment, is ready for release back into the wild. After a long rehab where she was able to build up strength and pack on some serious pounds, she will finally be able to go home to Puget Sound on Tuesday. Our first responder is thrilled to be able to accompany Storm on this full-circle journey.

We thank PAWS for their monumental effort to restore her back to health. Our little bag-o-bones pup is now a true blubberball.

Storm fattens up at PAWS

Storm is one fat and happy blubberball at PAWS. It is shocking to compare the photos of Storm on the beach at Lincoln Park to her rotund self these days. The above photo at left was taken on September 5th and Seal Sitters rescued her the next morning. For two full weeks or more at PAWS, it was uncertain if she would survive. Thanks to Kevin, PAWS’ naturalist, for sending a recent photo of her in the big pool. She is scheduled for release sometime soon and we will keep you posted with updates.

Help Storm by donating to PAWS

     

Storm is thriving in rehab at PAWS, but it is an extremely costly endeavor to rehab a seal pup - a very labor and food intensive process. We recently were able to get some video footage of Storm swimming in her big pool and being fed a tasty lunch of capelin. It is estimated that Storm’s diet runs about $350 per month. Most seal pups like herring, but Storm has an appetite for capelin, of which she consumes about 11 pounds a day! Storm will continue to grow stronger at PAWS for at least another 4-6 weeks - until she has put on a sufficient blubber store to help her survive upon release back into the wild.

Please make a donation to PAWS (designate “in honor of an animal” - West Seattle seal pup Storm) today and help pay for Storm’s gourmet meals. PAWS relies solely on donations from the public to continue their work. It is estimated that the rehab of one seal pup is approximately $10,000. If you donate, please email us and we’ll let PAWS know our readers made donations. You can also mail a check to: PAWS Wildlife Center, PO Box 1037, Lynnwood, WA 98046 (please indicate on the check that it is to go to the Wildlife Center, seal rehab).

PAWS goes the extra mile to make sure that seal pups are not given too much human exposure while in rehab so that they are not habituated to people upon release. Storm was not allowed to see us and our camera was hoisted over the top of her pool. It was very exciting to see how fat and vibrant she has become.

Storm doing great in rehab

Seal pup, Storm, who was rescued from a Lincoln Park beach on Labor Day, is flourishingt at PAWS. She is now chasing and catching live fish in her large pool. So, the prognosis for a successful rehab and release is very good. Thanks to the dedicated staff at PAWS!

Storm and Sparky move to the outside pools at PAWS

Storm (West Seattle pup) and Sparky (Ballard pup) have each been moved to the outside pools at PAWS. The rehab staff there is “cautiously optimistic” about their chances. There is a bit of concern that the pups are not gaining weight, so they were being tube fed today. However, they are both alert and “feisty” and Storm is reportedly one bitey little girl. Once the pups have completed their quarantine they will be put in the same pool - let’s hope they will soon be doing the backstroke together!

Pupdate: seal pup Storm wins first round at PAWS

We received a “pupdate” on Storm, our little pup that was taken to PAWS yesterday afternoon. According to PAWS, Storm is a feisty female - just like the team of women she is named after! She gained quite a bit of weight overnight, but most of that is from being hydrated with fluids and she now weighs 18.7 lbs. Additionally, Storm has quite a few wounds on her, but the good news is none are infected. The most serious wound is a pretty severe one to her right rear flipper. She is being given a round of antibiotics and nutritional support. She is not out of danger, but Seal Sitters volunteers are greatly encouraged.

If Storm doesn’t show signs of the highly contagious disease Brucella, she will be able join the female pup, Sparky, that Seal Sitters helped rescue on Saturday morning. The two pups will go through their rehab together. Many, many thanks to PAWS as always for their incredible work! Please make a donation to PAWS designated to defray the extreme costs of rehabbing seals. Stay tuned for more pupdates on these two gorgeous pups.

Pupdate
9/8/10 7:35
Both Storm and Sparky are alert and feisty this morning, but are battling a bit of diarrhea. Rehabilitators are giving them subcutaneous fluids to keep them hydrated while they adjust to their new food.

Labor Day no picnic for Seal Sitters - 2 pups at Lincoln Park

Seal Sitters volunteers were kept busy today watching over two seal pups at Lincoln Park. Storm was still on the beach early this morning and a second pup hauled out mid-afternoon. Storm looked even more thin today, was less alert and had some discharge around the eyes. Seal Sitters received authority this afternoon to take the pup to PAWS for evaluation. We will keep you posted with updates regarding Storm.

     
The second pup flop-hopped high up onto the beach by Colman Pool, undaunted by quite a number of fishermen onshore. He appears to be weaned. While he looks stronger than Storm, the very alert pup is still thin and had some blood around the umbilicus. It is always a concern when the umbilicus area does not close up and heal because it can be a source of dangerous infection. This pup was nicknamed Swimmy (shown at left). Swimmy has very distinct and beautiful markings which will make him easy to identify should he choose other West Seattle locations to rest.

Both pups presented quite a challenge for volunteers since each pup was very close to the sea wall and walkway. It is important to keep observers at a respectable distance so that the pups can rest. Standing above a pup as close as ten feet away causes undue stress for the animal. Additionally, if by chance there is a mom around, too many people hovering around a pup can cause the pup to be abandoned. Thanks to the many volunteers who spent their holiday looking after the pups and those who did public outreach on Alki.

See related media stories about Storm:
KOMO-tv , Rescuers aiding malnourished seal.

Seal Sitters thanks the West Seattle blog for their on-going support of our work on the beach. Read the WS Blog story about Storm, Seal Sitters guarding pup at Lincoln Park.

Small pup sunbathes at Lincoln Park

     
A small and very thin pup enjoyed the warm afternoon sun at Lincoln Park today. Seal Sitters dispatch received a call about 3 this afternoon from an alert volunteer who was at the park. By the time our responder arrived, she had already taped off the beach to discourage the gathering crowd from creating too much disturbance around the pup. The pup was very alert and aware of the enthusiastic and concerned onlookers. As the afternoon wore on and the beach became quieter, the pup was able to get some rest. Other than being terribly thin, there appeared to be only some minor cuts. All of the pup’s teeth have erupted, but some are quite small. Once again, it appears we have a pup that is on his own and struggling.

Our first responder, Robin, thanks all the seal pups for staying in the water today until after the Seattle Storm won their WNBA playoff game, advancing to the championship. So, this little pup has been dubbed Storm - in hopes he shows the same fight as our team does. Volunteers watched over him til late last night. We will be keeping an eye on Storm and will keep you updated.

Update 9/6/10. Storm was taken to PAWS late this afternoon.
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