Harbor seal safety

by Youth Ocean Advocate Anastasia E.

As we all know harbor seals are the most adorable and puppy like animals in the sea. But with their cuteness, it comes with a price. Some people have a tendency to get a little close and it actually can cause distress for the animal laying on the beach.

There have also been recent reports of harbor seals, and other seals, jumping onto kayaks and prattle boards. When people are out on the water, they normally stay close to shore and with that some younger seals are looking for a resting place and hop aboard.

When we went kayaking last week we didn’t have a seal come for a ride, or even see a seal for more than a second either. But it’s important to know if a cute and cuddly looking seal hopes up on your board it’s important to leave it alone and not to bother it. Along with them on the beach too.

Seals, like harbor seals use beaches and rocks as a resting area. They beach themselves to sun themselves or to just get out of the water. But with the growing populations it’s getting harder and harder for them to find a good resting place away from people. And if you do happen to see a harbor seal on the beach it’s important to stay 100 meters away from them, not only for their and your safety but because they are protected under the marine mammal protection act, which makes it illegal also. If you do happen to see a seal the best thing to do is call the seal sitters.

The seal sitters say “Harbor seal mothers are very shy and will not return ashore for offspring if they feel it is not safe, so always observe from a distance. NOAA recommends a minimum of 100 yards. Human disturbance can cause abandonment of newborn pups. Weaned pups need rest, too. They are on their own, alone and struggling to survive without mom’s rich, high fat milk.” And how important it is to keep far away from them in general.

If you do see anyone harassing/ bothering a seal there’s a number to call (206) 905-SEAL

It’s super important to keep these little guys alive, with being the most common marine mammal in Puget Sound these guys are a keystone species and without them the ecosystem would crumble. Pups have a 50% survival rate. And if the mother and pup do not bond the mother will abandon her baby and it’ll eventually die without the care of its mother. Another very common way for baby seals to die is when their mother is under a lot of stress and has the pup prematurely witch decreases the chance of survival even more.

“Almost immediately after birth, a pup is able to swim. At 2 days old, he is able to stay underwater for 2 minutes. Within a short time, he is playfully exploring his new watery world. Moms are very affectionate with their offspring, who usually accompany them on short swims offshore. By the time pups are weaned at 4-6 weeks, they will have doubled their birth weight (18-30 lbs) on mom’s milk (almost 50% fat).” Says seal sitters. It’s very important for the mother to make an instant bond with her baby.

Even though these guys are not a endangered species and aren’t struggling to survive they are still and amazing and important animal to Puget Sound.

Categories Science

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