When a stranded baby seal pup mysteriously appeared on our beach last Tuesday afternoon I called every emergency number on the planet until I was led to Danae at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, in charge of monitoring baby seal pups. Danae explained how important it was that I follow the hardest advice imaginable: protect and guard the area with signs, watch the pup and... whether its mother returns from her feeding and carries it to safety or not and it dies, I could do nothing except hope, wait, and watch. It looked so vulnerable looking out at the water and crying for its mother, just lying there waiting for her to return. Only 50% survive. At sunset Wednesday night and still no signs of its mother as it waited facing the ocean and crying, I watched an eagle slowly circle the baby pup, and remembered her words, eagles depend on pups for nourishment. I could not intervene. Thursday morning when I forced myself the courage to check for his tiny body, he was gone! No signs of a struggle, he was gone as secretly as he'd appeared. Wherever you are, Mother Seal, thank you. And, a special thank you, Danae, for your guidance and compassion.
A word from the PTMSC Marine Mammal Stranding Network
So what should you do if you encounter a seal pup on the shore? The best thing you can do is give the animal space. Mothers often leave their pups on shore to rest. Adult seals are wary of people, so mom will wait until all disturbances are gone before reuniting with and nursing her pup (Gayleen waited two days!). Encourage people to "Share the Shore" by staying back 100 yards, if possible. Do not attempt to move, feed, pick up, or pour water on a seal pup. Please call the PTMSC Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 360-385-5582 x 103 for guidance or to report a dead, injured or stranded marine mammal.
Enjoy those sandy beaches and rocky tide-pools this summer and remember to Share the Shore!
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Also, check out our Marine Mammal Guide here