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Please support Seal Sitters and help fund seal pup research

All-volunteer Seal Sitters MMSN hopes you will consider a year-end donation to help us continue to protect seal pups and other marine mammals on West Seattle beaches throughout the coming year.

Your money goes directly to our efforts to provide a caring and safe environment for seals who need to rest and gain strength in an urban setting.

As you are aware, seal pups do not always survive their first year. In fact, with a 50% mortality, the odds are greatly stacked against them. When a seal pup dies here on our beaches, we wish we could find out why. A necropsy is often the only way to provide answers. Due to recent federal Prescott budget constraints for critical marine mammal research, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Mammal Investigations Unit (WDFW-MMI) is forced to limit the number of tissue and blood samples sent to labs. If such samples are not being analyzed, it is difficult to monitor emerging diseases or other health concerns among Puget Sound seals.

Seal Sitters’ current fundraising focus is to do what we can to help fund lab costs to study the cause of mortality in more cases. We hope to provide funding to cover the cost of lab tests for approximately 10 additional necropsied seal pups in 2015. Since it is estimated these lab tests will cost up to $250 per seal (depending on samples required), our goal is to raise $2,500 by the end of this year. You can help with your personal donation! Any amount will be greatly appreciated.

Your donation will enable marine mammal researchers to learn more about cause of death in young pups. This additional testing will provide insight into the overall health of the harbor seal population, as well as toxin levels, pathogens, and other contributing factors to mortality of individual pups.

Donations to Seal Sitters are fully deductible. Our fiscal sponsor, Associated Recreation Council (ARC), is a 501(c)(3) that processes contributions on our behalf.
To make an online donation, click here.

OR, you can save us the 3% charge card processing fee by mailing a check (check only, no cash) to:

Seal Sitters
4701 Admiral Way, #224
Seattle, WA 98116
(please make check payable to "ARC dba Seal Sitters")

Seal Sitters does not receive any funding from NOAA, the State, or City of Seattle for the ongoing work we do. We depend on donations from the public to continue to operate. Please, ask your friends, family, and business associates to support our organization and volunteer efforts by making a donation to Seal Sitters.

Seal Sitters MMSN would not exist were it not for the dedicated work of our volunteers and the support of the public - and your belief in us. We simply can’t adequately protect marine mammals without you! We cannot thank you enough.


A Christmas seal brings joy to volunteers

For the first time in Seal Sitters’ eight years of marine mammal response, we had a harbor seal pup on Christmas morning. First Responder Dana volunteered to be on duty for the day so that others could spend time with family (flipper hugs to Dana!).

Hotline operator Dave received a report about 10:45 that there was a seal on the beach at Lincoln Park and called Dana. Grabbing stranding materials, she jumped in her car and dashed down Beach Drive. As she made the long hike in from the north end of the popular park, she passed lots of people walking and riding bikes on a beautiful, sunny morning. A man saw her carrying signs and tape and asked if a seal pup was nearby. When she said yes, he quickly leashed his dog and left the beach.

Arriving at the scene, bystanders enthusiastically helped Dana establish a hasty protective perimeter. The pup, however, who was alert at the tideline, returned to the water. After waiting for some time to make sure the pup didn’t return, the tape was removed. Just as Dana was getting ready to leave the park, she noticed the pup flop-hop ashore a short distance down the beach. Thankfully, SSMMSN volunteer JoDean and her daughter Cindy happened to be out for a walk and helped set up a new perimeter with tape and cones around the pup, now nicknamed Silverbell. JoDean and Cindy ended up staying for hours with Dana, educating the public about harbor seal behavior and pups’ need to rest. Volunteer scheduler for the day, Arden, lined up volunteers to help throughout the afternoon. At times, there were people lined up all along the extensive yellow tape perimeter. Around 3pm, Silverbell swam off into the cold waters of Puget Sound.

Dana reported that she was so happy to be first responder yesterday and “got the best Christmas gift.” JoDean emailed to say that she and her daughter both agreed it turned out be be “one of the best Christmas Days” they ever had. Even though they had planned a Christmas meal and needed to begin cooking at 1pm, they decided to change their menu and stay to help Dana. What a tremendous gift all of our participating volunteers gave Silverbell yesterday - that of safety! Seal Sitters is so lucky to have you.

Seal Sitters MMSN receives no funding for our work. If you would like to read more about our end-of-year and 2015 fundraising focus and make a donation to help, click here.

Pupsicle rests briefly onshore

Just after noon yesterday, hotline operator Sharon fielded a call about a seal pup onshore at Alki Beach. The reporting party and her daughter agreed to stay at the site until a first responder could arrive. Within minutes, responders David and Eilene were on the scene with stranding materials. The skittish and alert pup went back into the water, but turned around and immediately came back to the beach. A quick and extensive perimeter was set on the sand to provide a protective area for the pup to rest. The anxious pup, however, left the beach and swam off into Puget Sound.

Two hours later, Seal Sitters volunteer Chris was out for a walk and noticed a pup near the water’s edge at a location further south. A quick call to the hotline and first responders were back in their car, headed out on the second response of the day. Tape was stretched between cones to prevent access to the pup, nicknamed Pupsicle. More Seal Sitters volunteers arrived to educate passersby about the resting pup and a spotting scope was set up on the seawall, enabling a closeup view from a safe distance away. One family inquired if they could “pet” the seal and it was explained that all marine mammals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, preventing harassment - which includes touching, feeding and moving a seal. Seals also fall under the protection of Washington State law.

All wild animals, such as this weaned seal pup estimated to be 4-5 months old, can and will bite and can transmit disease. Undisrupted rest, free from stress, is critical for a seal pup’s survival. Pupsicle was on the thin side and returned to the water around 3:40 with the incoming tide. A comparison of photos revealed that the two responses were indeed to the same pup.

Nary a creature is stirring this holiday season

Things continue to be slow on the marine mammal front around West Seattle with no responses to live pups onshore since late November. As our consulting WDFW biologist says, this could merely mean a lack of prey food in our area. Seals tend to haul out close to a food source, so they may have just moved on. We do occasionally see pups hanging offshore, so maybe they are healthier this year - and wiser - and choosing less public spaces to rest.

Our sister stranding network, Sno-King Marine Mammal Response has been busy with one pup who has been visiting a downtown Seattle beach almost daily for over a week. Other networks across Puget Sound have reported a quieter than usual season as well this year.
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